The Joy Of Eating

I did it again to myself. No one to blame but me.

It was a morning I was running at 90 doing a million things before I left the house for the day. Now it was lunch, I was hungry and I pulled out my less than stellar salad I’d hurriedly tossed together.

Hungry, with food that would feed my hunger, but not necessarily bring me joy.

Ugh.

My favorite goof up was tossing salad in my container one night thinking I’d add protein to it in the morning along with a few more veggies.

Imagine my delight when lunch came and I had forgotten to add that and all I had was mostly dark leafy greens.

Go me.

It’s ok to feel good about eating

When I’m hungry, I shamelessly love my food. When my stomach is growling and let’s me know it’s time to eat I want to enjoy my meal.

In the diet obsessive,weight loss focused world we live in there is often an unspoken idea that really, you shouldn’t. You shouldn’t enjoy eating, you should obsess or feel guilt, you should eat food that is unexciting because ya know, gotta lose weight.

You should feel deprived and a bit miserable in the process.

Listen, whether you’re working on weight loss or not, you should feel good about eating. Hopefully, you’re making good food choices, but even if you aren’t at that meal I hope there aren’t feelings of guilt that go down with it.

Unfortunately many of us may have grown up with negative behaviors with food, not been shown good eating habits, or used food as a coping mechanism/drug as we grew up.

Working to develop good eating habits, even if it’s slowly, will help you learn to feel good about it.

So about that “joy” of eating

Back to my opening lines. I don’t have much joy when I’ve been haphazard or lazy about putting my food together. When my lunch is ok and basically takes up stomach space, it doesn’t give me joy.

It makes me annoyed I didn’t take the time to put together food I would appreciate more.

We should enjoy our food, we should have food that not only offers our bodies the nutrients it needs for good health, but it should be satisfying to our souls.

Think of things like Thanksgiving or if you were fortunate, amazing Sunday dinners your grandmother whipped up.

Those are often times we may think of that are joyful eating.

True, not every day is like that. Reality might be a sandwich on the run between meetings or whatever we can grab in a busy day.

Joyful eating

I’m surrounded by a lot of men in my family. Men have this tendency to wolf food down. They love teasing me about my “little bites” and being the last one left eating.

I simply inform them I like tasting and savoring my food. ๐Ÿ˜‰

I like taking my time and not rushing.. nothing wrong with that is there?

Some tips for joyful eating

* Be mindful. Really, be in the moment of what you’re eating. Lose the phone, don’t stare at the TV and really focus on enjoying your food.

* Be aware of textures and flavors, appreciate how it all tastes and smells.

* Take your time. Honestly you may have to practice slowing down if you’re used to eating fast. You’ll have a better appreciation if you do.

* Savor the meal and learn to savor the relationships with those you have around the table. Over good food I’ve learned much about my family.

*Prepare foods you really love. Double win if you prepare foods others love as much.

* Leave any guilt you have at the door. Food and guilt have no place together.

* Look for new recipes that give you joy in cooking for you and your family meals.

Tell me…how do you view eating? Is it a joyful thing or one that is mindlessly accomplished ?

The Emotional Impact Of Food

Breaking up in a toxic relationship can sometimes be hard can’t it? Leaving behind someone that has left us feeling good, stroked our emotions and feelings, been there for us in tough times, yet somehow has not always been the best thing for us.

Why do we struggle to leave when we know, really, it’s best for us?

Yet we continue on day after day allowing ourselves to be dragged through it because its comfortable, familiar, and makes us feel good. Sometimes really good.

Now, imagine if you will, that’s our relationship with food.

Of course we can’t totally break it off, but we may need to set some clear and healthy boundaries with it.

Whether we acknowledge it or not, we all have some type of relationship with food in our lives.

Of course those relationships and how they look largely depend on alot of things.

How we were raised.

I’d say that is most likely one of the biggest factors. How was food treated in your home while you were growing up?

Was it healthy and nutritious? Were you taught balance and good eating habits?

Were there the usual times of holidays and celebrations where it was expected you’d eat another piece of pie? ( cause hey Thanksgiving!) And that’s allowable ๐Ÿ˜„

Or was it the complete opposite with eating in excess and indulgence the norm? Eating way past the point of your hunger being satisfied until you were “stuffed “?

Perhaps it was somewhere in between.

Where ever you land, don’t underestimate how that has shaped your behavior with food today.

We’ve trained ourselves.

Like anything in our lives, we train ourselves in routines of habit.

Times we get up or go to bed. How we brush our teeth, prepare for our day, how we organize things…..it’s all set habits and routines we’ve formed.

Our eating and food choices are no different…..good or bad.

You’ve trained yourself to get snacks at the convenience store or trained yourself to load your shopping cart with fruits and veggies. Or you make a stop for morning coffee with or without a donut.

Perhaps it’s the drive thru coming home from work for a “snack” before dinner.

Whatever it is, you may have built habits with food to help you cope with emotional issues.

To do things differently will mean an intentional, purposeful, act to rebuild new positive and healthy habits.

Awareness leads to success

It hit me like a ton of bricks a few years back on this journey I’m on.

I had grown up in and with a household of emotional eaters.

Food was used for everything.

Happy? Sad? Celebrating? Angry? The weather changed? Boredom? Loneliness?

Comfort food wasn’t just a vague description….it was used to feed emotions.

Becoming aware of that made me even more mindful of my eating habits. Although not to the extreme of many family members, I had my own Achilles too.

If I found myself roaming looking for something I’d first think ” am I hungry?”

If that was a solid no, I removed myself and tried to assess what the reality was that I did need.

As I got further down the road of understanding myself, and being more mindful, food had a lot less pull to do it.

To this day, I still need to be mindful. Ingrained habits can take a long, long time to retrain, but it can be done.

You simply have to be real with yourself about those weak areas and then be willing to discipline yourself in new ways.

Oh. And don’t quit just because you don’t “get it right” immediately. Small daily steps lead to big victories

The mental shift

My brother and I were talking recently about similar things. He has been on his own journey. He’s lost a ton of weight and been faithful to strength training and learning to embrace cardio a bit more ๐Ÿ˜

I’m super proud of his efforts. But it hasn’t been without his own struggles along the way too. His weakness for sweets, eaten often in secret, was a huge thing to work at overcoming.

He has had to take huge steps in the mental awareness area to continue being successful.

We talked about people who had lots of weight to lose ( like 100s of lbs) and the modern day quick fixes of surgeries and extreme diets….and how the majority failed and only regained the weight lost.

Why?

There was never a change in their mental behavior. There was never a shift in their relationship and behavior with food.

Whatever underlying problems drove them to eat and use food as an emotional coping tool were still there.

Without that being changed, you will continue in all the negative behaviors and patterns that led to becoming over weight.

The same is true for all of us. We have to know, recognize and understand why we do what we do with food.

Eating to ease the things inside of us is a negative way to deal with life, yet for many it becomes a coping mechanism for deeper issues.

If you struggle, here are things to consider.

Know your triggers. What causes you to reach for food? Keeping a notebook might be helpful to look back at to help you see patterns of behavior.

Are there times of day you feel weaker or less likely to make better choices?

What are your personal family dynamics with food? Healthy or not so healthy?

Do you mindlessly eat? Do you eat food without being present and enjoying it? Or do you just go through the motions?

Are you always thinking of food? Really, we shouldn’t be. If you eat adequate food ( enough to satisfy your appetite without over eating) and it’s nutritionally dense healthy food you won’t be hungry. Putting food in a proper position in your mind is important to success too.

Be patient and kind to yourself on the journey! Know you won’t change over night but be willing to keep moving forward and not give up.

These are just a few suggestions, you may think of others.

For any diet or weight loss program to be succesful, leading to a permanent lifestyle change your mind must be on board to a healthier you. You must deal with and let go of negative behaviors and build in new positive ones.

If your mind is not changed, you will keep repeating the cycle over and over again.

Would you agree or disagree our minds play the most important part of weight loss?

Diet Disasters

One thing that’s for certain under the sun besides taxes and death, is the fact people will always be on some kind of diet.

The diet industry takes in billions of dollars a year from people desperate and willing to try the next thing.

Unfortunately, the majority of those diets are going nowhere fast leaving their fallen victims clutching their celery sticks.

Seriously though I’ve seen the usual ones roll through this week….everything from speed supplements to starvation diets.

Can I just mention again, you really don’t have to go to extremes, be miserable, suffer, starve, and deprive yourself to lose weight and develop of change of lifestyle.

Yet some persist with this idea.

Case #1

I guess for some reason ( maybe cause I write about it ) social media thinks I want to see all kinds of over hyped diet and nutrition “supplements” in my newsfeed.

Besides being annoying, they sometimes amaze me too ( and by amaze I mean at the outright craziness of what they sell) Mostly though, my heart hurts for those who will pay cash grasping at straws in an effort to ditch weight quickly.

With just a little research I learned some of the biggest complaints with this product was high blood pressure, nervousness, racing heart and other cardiac issues.

The FDA made them remove a “questionable” ingredient and it was supposedly replaced with something “safer”.

Hmmm. Ok.

The product is mostly ingredients that act like speed in your body ( is this what they mean by ” speeding up your metabolism ??) and it also suppresses your appetite.

So you’re a nervous, jittery ball of energy running on minimal food, always thinking about when you can eat again.

Hmmmm. Sounds fun to me.

Weird newsflash but….having an appetite, our bodies telling us they are hungry, is a normal, natural thing.

Feed it.

Feed it real food, enough of it, to actually satisfy your hunger.

Our physical needs are often treated like something freakish and weird instead of normal.

Love your body, feed it nutritionally good food. When you do that, and eat enough to satisfy your hunger, you’ll be amazed at how good you feel.

Case #2

I had heard about this diet before when a friend on social media started talking about their “diet” and that they were only eating 500 calories a day.

Mainly I perked up thinking “whoa a gerbil can’t live on 500 calories a day…like….how ya gettin’ outta bed??”

This diet is extreme and he was lured into a sense of…security? Cause it was under his doctor’s care.

Wait a second.

Wait.

What the hell kinda doctor prescribes, supports, encourages, someone to be on a diet where their daily caloric intake is 500 calories and whatever random supplements?

My mind can’t get there.

I don’t care if a person has alot of weight to lose, that to me, is pure craziness.

Crazy and totally not safe.

I didn’t know to laugh or cry when I started reading up on it and exercise isn’t recommended.

Ha…really? Probably because you have to reserve your very minimal energy to keep breathing.

Ever heard of something called your BMR? ( basal metabolic rate)

I’ll tell you. It’s related to the way your body uses energy. For all of us it’s different.

Men and women in general will be different measures. Your BMR is the number of calories your body needs to have just to maintain keeping you alive.

Ya know….breathing, beating heart, to name a few.

For men its roughly 1,662 calories, and for women it’s 1,493.

This is just the basics.

It doesn’t take in you working a full day, your extra activities, as well as purposeful exercise. All of those factors change your caloric needs.

See how it can go bad fast existing on such minimal calories? And yes, you are just existing because you will be dragging without a fuel supply. No energy and mentally foggy.

Not only that, rapid weight loss will consume muscle as well as fat, further affecting your metabolism. And who wants to lose muscle mass??

Recently, I was made aware of another person doing this. Without great detail I’ll just say they dealt with lots of negative effects, and suffered physical consequences like constant hunger, agitation, dehydration, passing out, and another unexpected doctor visit.

And one more point ( I could make a lot more ๐Ÿคฃ)

But this is a fact true to any diet, or stomach surgery, or really anything extreme.

If you don’t understand “why” you do what you do with food, if you don’t develop good “healthy behaviors” with food, if you don’t learn different strategies in the “how and why ” of your eating, you will be right back where you started.

Every single time.

Losing the weight may be fairly easy, however the mental shift takes much more time, discipline, and self awareness.

This is where so many people fail to follow through and really work on which is why there is a larger number of diet/ weight loss failures than successes.

In another post for another day, we’re gonna talk more about mental changes and self awareness to food and weight loss.

Again, I preach often, there is no “quick” way, nor should there be. Great weight gain doesnt happen in 7 days, great weight loss won’t either.

Daily, slow and steady, making good healthy choices always wins the race.

Tell me…have you ever tried any type if extreme diet? How did that turn out?

Spotlight on Tomatoes

Summer is rapidly approaching here in Texas. Last weekend we rocked the ridiculous temps over 100, and closer to 110 with the heat index.

It was so sweltering it almost took your breath away.

With the arrival of summer there are some fruits and veggies that seem to just be a part of the season.

Tomatoes top that list.

Is there anything better than a warm, vine ripened tomato sliced with some salt and pepper? I could eat more than my share ๐Ÿ˜

So as a nod to delicious summer food I thought the tomato would be a good one for our food spotlight post.

The 411

The tomato is from the nightshade family native to South America.

Despite botanically being a fruit, itโ€™s generally eaten and prepared like a vegetable.

Tomatoes are the major dietary source of the antioxidant lycopene, which has been linked to many health benefits, including reduced risk of heart disease and cancer.

They are also a great source of vitamin C, potassium, folate, and vitamin K.

Some nutrition facts

The water content of tomatoes is around 95%. The other 5% consists mainly of carbs and fiber.

Here are the nutrients in a small raw tomato:

  • Calories: 18
  • Water: 95%
  • Protein: 0.9 grams
  • Carbs: 3.9 grams
  • Sugar: 2.6 grams
  • Fiber: 1.2 grams
  • Fat: 0.2 grams

Carbs comprise 4% of raw tomatoes, which amounts to fewer than 5 grams of carbs for a medium one.

Simple sugars,such as glucose and fructose, make up almost 70% of the carb content.

Other plant compounds

The main plant compounds in tomatoes are:

  • Lycopene. A red pigment and antioxidant, lycopene has been extensively studied for its beneficial health effects.
  • Beta carotene. An antioxidant that often gives foods a yellow or orange hue, beta carotene is converted into vitamin A in your body.
  • Naringenin. Found in tomato skin, this flavonoid has been shown to to decrease inflammation protect against various diseases in mice.
  • Chlorogenic acid. A powerful antioxidant compound, chlorogenic acid may lower blood pressure in people with elevated levels.

Studies show that tomatoes and tomato products may reduce your risk of heart disease and several cancers. This fruit is also beneficial for skin health, as it may protect against sunburns.

So now that we’ve discussed how good they are for you….

How about a few recipes? Tomatoes by themselves are perfect. I also love tossing them in some olive oil and roasting with asparagus.

Cherry tomatoes are also good in my veggie scramble for breakfast.

As mentioned earlier, they also make perfect light dishes when the days get long and warm.

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By the way….I made the rustic Italian cucumber and tomato salad for dinner last night…it is definitely a keeper.

Tell me, do you have any favorite tomato recipes?

Spotlight on Watermelon

We are approaching that time of year here in south Texas.

The time of year where there are longer days, warm evenings and easier dinners.

One of the foods that make frequent appearances at our summer meals is the sweet and flavorful watermelon.

And not just for dinner but it’s also a cool, sweet, refreshing treat on a hot afternoon.

Let’s take a look at how this delicious treat breaks down…

Watermelon consists mostly of water (91%) and carbs (7.5%). It provides almost no protein or fat and is very low in calories.

The nutrients in 2/3 cup of raw watermelon are:

  • Calories: 30
  • Water: 91%
  • Protein: 0.6 grams
  • Carbs: 7.6 grams
  • Sugar: 6.2 grams
  • Fiber: 0.4 grams
  • Fat: 0.2 grams

You can eat a whole lot of it for minimal calories!

Watermelon contains 12 grams of carbohydrates per cup.

The carbs are mostly simple sugars, such as glucose, fructose, and sucrose. Watermelon also provides a small amount of fiber.

The glycemic index (GI) โ€” a measure of how quickly foods raise blood sugar levels after meals โ€” of watermelons ranges from 72โ€“80, which is high.

However, each serving of watermelon is relatively low in carbs, so eating it should not have a major effect on blood sugar levels.

Don’t listen to health “experts” who criticize fruits because of sugars in them. These are naturally occurring sugars and not the simple sugars in cokes, candies or other sweet things.

Those…you definitely need to do in moderation.

The benefits of a fruit far outweigh the natural sugars in them that some people try to demonize.

What other good things does watermelon offer?

  • Vitamin C. This antioxidant is essential for skin health and immune function.
  • Potassium. This mineral is important for blood pressure control and heart health.
  • Copper. This mineral is most abundant in plant foods and often lacking in the Western diet.
  • Vitamin B5. Also known as pantothenic acid, this vitamin is found in almost all foods to some extent.
  • Vitamin A. Watermelon contains beta carotene, which your body can turn into Vitamin A.

Watermelon is an exceptionally healthy fruit.

Itโ€™s loaded with citrulline and lycopene, two powerful plant compounds linked to lower blood pressure, improved metabolic health, and decreased muscle soreness after exercise.

Whatโ€™s more, itโ€™s sweet, delicious, and packed with water, making it excellent for maintaining good hydration.

For the vast majority of people, watermelon is a perfect addition to a healthy diet.

Tasty ways to eat it

Really the best way is just a big slice, still in the rind, cold, and juicy running down your hands while you eat it.

Yeah, super messy but it’s also one of those fun easy ways to enjoy it

When I serve it with dinner I do cut it from the rind into neatly sized pieces for more manageable eating ๐Ÿ™‚

Check out these ideas for watermelon

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Is watermelon a favorite summer fruit for you? How do you like to eat it?

Saturday Snippets

If there is one thing that often seems to be a stumbling block to people who want to lose weight it’s this….

They think there has to be an “all or nothing” mentality to get it done.

Either they have to exist off of kale and water ( both of which I have nothing against) and live a totally miserable existence constantly checking the scale to see if a pound or two has vanished.

They go back to counting down the days till they can get back to “normal” again because they don’t think there is room in a nutrition plan for having a hamburger or Chocolate cake on occasion.

I feel bad when I see people choosing a complete deprivation plan. Mainly because I know they are setting themselves up for failure.

It’s the same when they choose a specific diet that eliminates food groups or severely restricts foods that make life enjoyable.

We just aren’t wired for complete and total extremes. None of us are.

Who wants to be at a birthday party watching everyone else eat cake or not enjoy a meal out that you splurge a little?

Freedom is being able to do those things and knowing the end of the world won’t happen because you did.

In our daily nutrition we should strive to eat well with a good balance of all food groups. Little daily healthy choices add up for long term success.

Each meal should contain good portions of vegetables and fruits and a good amount of protein ( about 30%)

A healthy lifestyle means getting the appropriate nutrients we need but allowing ourselves a bit of freedom to have that treat.

It means that we can trust ourselves enough with those foods to eat and enjoy it and move on with life. When we blend our favorite things into a healthy eating plan we are less likely to binge because we’ve restricted ourselves

Building an awareness of food in our life will help us learn balance but also will lead to a slow steady weight loss that will be permanent

And …you’ll have your cake and eat it too ๐Ÿ˜‰

Spotlight on Blueberries

Mid-March is upon us and spring is attempting to “spring” here in south Texas. We never got much of a winter, but I think I’m not alone in saying we’re all ready for some sun and blue sky kinda days and leaving the grey foggy ones behind.

Of course with spring arriving it also heralds “berry” season and I can’t wait. I mean, not that I’ve taken a break from eating them, it just means they are crazy cheap and I can indulge even more freely ๐Ÿ™‚

I love all kinds of berries. They make appearances in all my breakfast meals and are a healthy, nutrient laden, low cal snack.

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I wrote some other berry posts, find them here……https://sassyfitnesschick.com/2018/03/13/spotlight-on-strawberries/ย  https://sassyfitnesschick.com/2018/01/30/the-super-powers-of-blackberries/

Ok first things first.

I found it amusing getting my healthy facts, that the things that kept coming up first in my searches were for muffins, pancakes, breads, etc like hold on with the recipes Susan, we’ll get there ๐Ÿ˜‰

Like other berries, blueberries pack a powerful nutritional and healthy punch. Blueberries areย an Antioxidant Superfood. Packed with antioxidants and phytoflavinoids, these berries are ย also high in potassium and vitamin C, making them the top choice of doctors and nutritionists. Not only can they lower your risk of heart disease and cancer, they areย also anti-inflammatory.

Blueberries are among the most nutrient dense ย berries. A 1-cup (148-gram) serving of blueberries contains :

  • Fiber: 4 grams
  • Vitamin C: 24% of the RDI
  • Vitamin K: 36% of the RDI
  • Manganese: 25% of the RDI
  • Small amounts of various other nutrients

They are also about 85% water, and an entire cup contains only 84 calories, with 15 grams of carbohydrates.

Blueberries are believed to have one of the highest antioxidant levels of all common fruits and vegetables.

The main antioxidant compounds in blueberries belong to a family of polyphenols antioxidants called flavonoids.

One group of flavonoids in particular โ€” anthocyanins โ€” is thought to be responsible for much of these berriesโ€™ beneficial health effects.

Blueberries have been shown to directly increase antioxidant levels in your body.

Blueberries may also lower blood pressure, prevent heart attacks, help maintain brain function and improve memory.

With the high Vitamin C content in blueberries, they are also considered an anti aging food. Anthocyanin in blueberries is responsible for preventing oxidative DNA damage, while the abundance of vitamin C is a big factor in building collagen.

Wanna stay looking younger? Add plenty of berries into your daily diet.

Other ways to incorporate them into your diet…

of course berries are a stand alone kinda thing and you can eat them “as is” but they also make great additions mixed in with yogurt or oatmeal.ย  Add them to smoothies or other drinks. I sometimes like them in salads.

But I’d say many people enjoy them wrapped up in tasty baked goods as well. And since life also deserves treats, I’ll leave you with a few tasty recipes for our friend, the blueberry ๐Ÿ™‚

 

Your turn. Do you like blueberries? Do you have a favorite way to eat them?