Understanding Emotional Eating

It’s 9:30 at night and you are for some reason, in the pantry studying the options, deciding what your poison will be. Cookies? Chips? Maybe the freezer is your thing… there are several varieties  of ice cream begging for attention.

You aren’t really hungry. Your stomach is quiet and you don’t have the physical signs of actually needing to eat food.

But there’s this driving urge in you….

And here you are… stalking the goods… out of what? Boredom? Loneliness? Anger? Hurt? Happy the day is over? Frustration? Hard day at work? Worry? Maybe you don’t even know.

Whatever the reason, it’s emotionally driven. You may be aware of it, or you may feel powerless against it. It may come on like a compelling urge and you act purely instinctively on it without pausing to think of what you are doing.

Many times, it may be completely mindless. Eating as you feed your mind food for your emotional needs.

Emotional eating is only a problem when it becomes a persons central response to  regulating their mood. It is a coping strategy.

What is emotional eating, exactly?

Stress eating. using food to make yourself feel better, eating to satisfy emotional needs rather than physical hunger.

Occasional eating for reasons other than hunger isn’t bad. Some degrees of emotional eating is normal. Food is typically the focus on holidays, celebrations, life events, funerals, weddings, etc.

However, if it is your “go to” , your primary coping mechanism, then there’s a problem.

You are in an unhealthy cycle where the real problem isn’t being addressed.

~ Emotional hunger can’t be filled with food.

~ Feels good in the moment but then you are left with guilt of eating whatever is bugging you.

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Identifying… are you an emotional eater?

Do you eat more when stressed?

Do you eat when you aren’t hungry or are full?

Do you eat to feel better? ( calm or soothe yourself)

Do you reward with food?

Do you regularly eat till you are stuffed?

Does food make you feel safe or like it’s a friend?

Do you feel powerless or out of control with it ?

Emotional eating craves specific comfort/ junk food or sugary snacks that provide an instant rush.

Mindless eating is not satisfied when full. Emotional hunger is not in the stomach. This also leads to negative feelings ( guilt, shame, regret) eating what you feel you shouldn’t have.

Food self soothes. Emotional eating is an attempt to manage moods with food.

Identifying triggers

it’s helpful to assess yourself and understand what can set you off. Situations, places, feelings, etc can cause you to reach for food.

Triggers wont always be negative but can be triggered by positive emotions too ( a reward for a goal, birthdays)

I mean really, who is ever actually hungry for birthday cake or some Christmas cookies? We eat it because it’s enjoyable and we are celebrating.

Common causes of emotional eating

Stress, stuffing emotions, boredom, loneliness, feelings of emptiness, social influences or even ingrained childhood habits can lead to overeating.  It’s important to find other ways to feed your feelings, alternate behaviors that have nothing to do with food.

If you don’t know how to manage your emotions in a way that doesn’t revolve around food you won’t be able to control your eating habits for long. Diets often fail because they offer logical nutrition advice – IF- you have conscious control over your eating habits.

They don’t/won’t work when emotions take over demanding a swift payoff of comfort foods. To stop emotionally eating you must learn new ways to fulfill yourself emotionally.

Understanding the cycle and triggers is a huge first step. You need to learn alternates to turn to and not food.

How to help yourself

Pause. Think. Reflect = different decision.

Can you wait?

While you wait…check in with how your feeling… what’s your emotional status?

Are you truly hungry? as in experiencing natural signals of hunger? Or is it your mind/emotions talking?

You’ve attempted resistance in the past with the belief that your willpower isn’t enough.

The truth is you have more power over your cravings than you believe.

Really.

By checking in with yourself, pausing, examining what it is you’re feeling you are more likely to make a different choice than just eating whatever you have in mind.

Learn to accept good and bad feelings. The root of emotional eating is feeling powerless over your emotions. You can’t deal with them so you avoid feelings with food.

Become a more mindful eater.

Mindful eating is a practice that develops your awareness of eating habits and your food.

Think about the foods you buy. Do you buy healthy foods? Do you buy trigger foods that will contribute to times of emotional eating? Think of what foods will nourish you.

Come to the table hungry. Not ravenous, but with your body giving you it’s natural signals it needs to eat.

Start with small amounts. I’m always amazed, really, at the small amount of food it takes to feed myself and deal with my hunger.

Learn to really appreciate your food. I make jokes to hubby about how amazing food tastes when I’m seriously hungry ( like after long workouts and I’m finally ready for food) not only does it taste awesome, it feels good going in ’cause I am really hungry. I have an appreciation for food with true hunger.

How it tastes and the satisfaction are so different than eating when you aren’t really hungry.

Bring all your senses with you to the table. Learn to smell, savor, and visually appreciate what you are eating.

Take small bites, chew well, and learn to eat slowly.  Doing so will let you really taste and enjoy your meal while allowing your stomach to register that it has had enough food.

Becoming a mindful eater also means staying connected with your feelings and how it impacts your choices in your day with food. It’s practice but with practice you can become more mindful of reasons why you eat when you aren’t hungry or feel like you’re emotions are driving you.

Some reflective thoughts….

I’ve shared several times in blogs my own awareness of coming out of a family of emotional eaters. I’ve talked about learning about myself and being mindful of it in my own life. Understanding that definitely helped me on my weight loss journey.

Sometimes I make very mindful choices that I want something, knowing full well, I don’t need it. Hubby wandered into the kitchen one night to find me perched on the counter top with a bag of chips, munching away.

I told him “I am fully cognizant I’m emotionally eating these right now” and the fact was, there had been some thing or another that had made me feel angst and I just wanted those stupid chips.

The thing about knowing and understanding it’s what I was doing? I ate some, reined myself in, and put them away.

I was mindful of my actions.

You might need time to get there. Maybe you’re at a point where somehow the bag disappears on you. Or maybe more cookies than you intended. Or a whole lotta ice cream vanishes. Or whatever your brand of poison is.

It might require work and effort on your part. It might be times of failure and times of success. The more you mentally engage with it, the closer you will get to not feeding your emotions.

This is such a big topic, you might find more on it in the future here. I think many struggle with it and it prevents the success they long for with weight loss. Gaining insight and understanding can help lead to success.

Do you have thoughts on this?

Have you struggled with emotional eating? Did you find ways to change it?  Do you struggle now? What has made you aware of it?

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The Athletes Body And Food

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“With all of the exercise you do, I guess you can eat whatever you want?”

This is one of  several questions I  often get asked and the answer is, no, I don’t eat whatever I want.

I’ve tried these past few years to build a different relationship with food. Specifically, food in regards to exercise.  Maybe you need to build a different relationship too or maybe you’ve hit a balance with it.

The question I’m asked of course, is merely inquiring.

If I’m investing so much physical energy I should certainly be able to eat whatever I want. This naturally means freedom to eat all perceived “off limits” foods since I will burn them off.

Of course the game changer for me if you’ve read previous posts, is the fact I’ve set nothing “off limits” so I don’t necessarily feel the need to eat forbidden foods because I’m exercising.

I know it’s there, if I want it.

Since I started on my athletic journey a few years ago, I’ve made it a point to never treat exercise like a free card to eat poorly. I guess the idea of pouring myself out, working hard, and then coming in and wolfing down a donut and chocolate milk ( although chocolate milk can make a good recovery drink 😉 ) seemed rather, pointless and negating to all I had just done. Not only that, if I was training to get strong and healthy why wouldn’t I feed my body good stuff ?

So I learned to train my thinking, essentially reshape, another aspect of my relationship with food.

Our food relationship

I wrote about that in a post recently. Our relationship with food. We all have one. For many of us we will need to continue to define this relationship in regards to our athletic activities. We cannot treat it as a free card to eat extra or eat badly.

About eating extra…..

there’s a bit of a disclaimer to that. When my training has kicked up and I have days that I’m heavily invested on a physical level I know my calories will need to increase to support what I’m doing. This is where learning about my body, listening to it, and feeding it accordingly come into play. This isn’t eating extra just because I feel like it. Learning to support my body depending on my physical output that day is very different.

Same goes for you. If you are involved in physical activities, listen to your body, know your needs and eat to sustain your body for what you do. Eat accordingly on days you invest more physical energy and be more conservative on your non-exercise days or light training days.

Don’t use food as a reward for exercise

Yeah, I’m going there. I honestly cringe when I see posts or hear someone talk about getting to eat because they exercised.

Stop it.

Food and exercise both nurture your body. You don’t have to earn your food. On the flip side, you don’t have to abuse your body ’cause you had a burger and fries for lunch and feel you have to “work it off”.  As if.

Food isn’t a reward and you aren’t a dog being thrown a treat because you worked out.

Food is fuel for your activities

When our relationship with food is in a place of understanding that it not only nurtures us, but fuels our activities we can look at it in a different way. If we want to perform well we can’t expect our bodies to operate on food that isn’t optimal. It can shift from a mentality of  ” eating what you want” to “eating food that rebuilds your body and gives you energy”.

By all means, eat enough

Long endurance training sessions can seemingly kick my appetite in over drive for not only that day, but sometimes the next as well. I’ve learned to eat healthy foods to satisfy my appetite. Again, I listen to my body and feed it as needed. I try and eat enough, but not to much.

Listen to your body. Learn to feed it what it needs after your training. Focus on healthy foods to support recovery.

I will admit after heavy endurance sessions, food is often not on my mind as those workouts tend to kill my appetite for awhile. Intellectually, I know I need to get something in me.  I’ve learned I can at least get some protein and carbs in with milk in a protein drink, I also add a banana as well, this gives me a good blend of carbs and protein for recovery.

Eat what you like that satisfies you and gives your body what it needs for repair and restoration post workout.

Keep in mind that the goal is about caring for yourself, before and after exercise. Food should be used to maintain your health and wellness, but hey, if you need some chocolate in there at some point, go for that too 😉

How have you viewed exercise and food? Do you or have you, used it as a reason to eat more or eat lesser quality food? Do you think exercise is a reason to eat “whatever” you want? Have you changed your thinking on that? How did it help you?

 

The Dangerous Game Of Off Limits Foods

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Just let the quote I have posted breathe over you for a few minutes. Think about it.  Can you relate on some level whether it’s now or at some point on your health journey ? It resonated deeply with me the first time I read it.

It’s a thought that permeates our society right now. An out of control, crazy way of thinking.

And it’s designed to have failure as the ultimate outcome.

“Good foods/bad foods”, ” Eliminate food groups”, “Sugar is like cocaine”, “Carbs are bad”. “Fat is bad”…..

Blah. Blah. Blah.

Every single one of those thoughts can potentially set you up for failure when it comes to eating and nourishing your body.  Setting up negative thoughts is exactly why so many people struggle with their relationship with food.

You may not like to think of it that way, but you do. We all do.

Those relationships can look really different for all of us.

Food can represent a power struggle in both directions. To one extreme it can result in eating disorders like anorexia… withholding food.

It can go the other direction which is bulimia, a complete out of control power with food.

It can also be the act of just over eating. Eating more than our bodies need for nourishment and health which leads to being overweight. Eating to feed a deeper need than physical hunger…  like emotional eating.

Our relationship with food can become rigid where everything is monitored that is taken in. Food becomes a task master to keep after and keep under a tight rein. It’s thought of constantly.

Or we may be fortunate to have developed a healthy relationship with it naturally on our own, or through our own health journey and arriving there through life experiences.

When we begin to set foods apart, good or bad,  putting them in an off limits category, and tell ourselves we can’t have them or that they are bad we start to give food a lot more power than it needs to have.

A part of learning and building new habits is to keep food in a “neutral zone”.

Food is food.

Don’t demonize it or put yourself on some restrictive way of living so all you do is think of those “forbidden” foods.

Do you see the danger of giving certain foods so much power in your life ? It’s designed to keep you from being successful.

Why?

You restrict foods, take them away, label them as bad, or you decide food group “x” isn’t something you are going to eat anymore ’cause that’s the current hyped up trend going on ( not that you have any health issues dictating it) but you’re participating in it.

You really love those foods and will miss them … where do you think your mind will be ?

Exactly.

Smack on the things you’ve set up as “off limits” which will only continue to warp your relationship with food and it’s a dangerous process.

I guess I fall in the camp of figuring out my relationship with food on my journey of health and fitness.

I shared in another blog that I grew up in a family of emotional eaters. I was one too and figured it out as I grew in my understanding of my relationship with food. I’d say I largely have it under control, although there are moments I am aware I’m eating for a reason other than hunger.

I tried many “diets” through my life. Ultimately, all I could wait for was for it to be over and get back to “normal”. ( I see you nodding your head. You know what I mean). Good times.

I’d say THE single biggest factor in my success ( I’m 8 years out now so I think I can address this)

I put nothing “off limits”.  Nothing.

You know what that did? It took all power out of anything that may have been forbidden.

I know what you’re thinking…. “Oh, then you probably just went off the wagon all the time”

No. I didn’t. I’m a big girl and certainly have the ability to control what I stuff in my mouth. But it did keep me from over thinking on food.

If my family went to get a burger ( which was an occasional treat) I wanted to enjoy it with them and not sit there forlornly eating a tub of pale iceberg lettuce with two tomatoes in it.

You might think that would send me off the deep end. Like… throw in the towel. Not at all. I continued my commitment to what I was doing. My daily focus on food was to eat well, eat moderate, and allow some treats to be factored in on my weight loss journey.

Now hear me. Although I don’t like to label foods, we can agree that there are some that aren’t the best for our health goals or the best to eat on a frequent basis. I kept that in mind too.

Fried/processed foods, drive thru meals, sugar, alcohol, simple carbs like cookies, cake, chips, candy, sodas, sugar drinks etc. can be tasty treats but must be handled with moderation.

I wasn’t to crazy at all about the idea of giving up chocolate to lose weight! I learned that a small amount, savored, often was enough to satisfy me. I didn’t need to just keep consuming it because it was there.

I don’t think I’m alone in this. The most successful people I know have done it with a non-restrictive balance in their lives.

Do I have trigger foods?

You bet I do. I know that it’s just not a smart move to bring home any type of kettle potato chip unless I’ve got people there eating them with me. 😛

It’s been a learning process.

Learning to trust myself with food. I don’t have to eat it because it’s there or have a “last supper” mentality and consume it all because I may never get it again.

Learning to listen to my body and it’s natural signals.

Learning to not be horribly restrictive to prevent the caving in and eating whatever because I felt deprived.

Learning to make better choices that supported my overall health and fitness goals.

I have learned….

to know my body and what makes me feel good and energetic.

I feel better eating lots of veggies and fruit. I have learned some foods just make me feel more sluggish or bloated and I’d rather pass on them. Lean meats, veggies, and good whole grain carbs keep me energetic and decently lean.

Those foods that used to have a pull on me don’t so much anymore. Healthy eating is natural and comfortable to me now.

I’ve learned to be patient with myself. Some days just might not be that great and it’s ok if I get up and keep going. The “not so great days” though have become less and less as this has become my lifestyle and I’ve built permanent habits.

Forward, slow, steady progress is the best kind of progress. It lasts.

I’ve learned a lot about nutrition. I eat adequate, good food to nourish my body three times a day and I don’t really think about food much anymore… except when my tummy is yelling at me 😉

I’ve learned life is a beautiful journey and it will have birthdays, and holidays and celebrations and food is a big part of those things. Finding balance and being able to enjoy those times is one of the best things about not having “off limits” foods. I have learned I can have my treats and it doesn’t undo all of my hard work. The best part? Not having that self-imposed “guilt” that used to come with it.

I don’t know where you are on your journey of health and fitness. If you struggle with food and are trying to understand your relationship with it, I hope that you at least begin to not cast foods into off limits groups. I hope you give yourself the freedom to eat well, to learn about yourself in the journey, and that you will find perfect balance in your personal relationship with food.

In summary

Know your relationship with food.

Don’t categorize food. Food, is simply, food.

Learn to know your body and listen to it.

Nourish it with healthy foods the majority of time and allow occasional treats.

Trust yourself.

Don’t practice a restrictive lifestyle.

Walk the road you are on. Slow and steady will last a lifetime.

Don’t quit.

Where are you on your journey? Do you feel like you have balance in your relationship with food? Have you set foods up as good or bad and then changed your thinking ? How did that help you?

 

 

 

Holidays, Food And Guilty Feelings

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So I’m writing this post pre Easter weekend. I am assuming that the majority of you reading will have just celebrated it in a variety of ways.

I can’t speak to the rest of the world. but in the U.S. it will involve family and faith and  all kinds of tasty foods as well as a plethora of candy.

It is however,  now Monday and you may be feeling guilty over your “self indulgence” of the weekend. You maybe feel like you enjoyed those stolen treats out of your kids basket a bit to much.

Heck, I usually have plenty of left over stuff I don’t need to raid their stuff ( and yeah, I still make my adult kids Easter baskets 😉

Seriously, though. I have a deep appreciation for chocolate although now days, it just takes a little for me, to much makes me feel yucky.

Of course I see things circulating on the internet that always make my skin crawl… meme’s that talk about doing certain exercises to “negate what you ate”

For the love of chocolate bunnies, you can’t undo something that’s already done!

Of course, there are things you can do after the fact…..like… move on and get back to your regular routine. Move forward…life as usual… you know, normal stuff.

Did you enjoy your time with your family? Was the food good? Did you have fun watching the kids experience the day? Whatever your day looked like, was it good?

Life is good. It’s meant to be enjoyed. That means there will be times we have celebrations and food and its food we really love ’cause it’s special to that event.  Life isn’t about constant restrictions and feeling guilty over what we put in our mouth.

A “diet” shouldn’t ruin our holiday celebrations.  On the other hand you shouldn’t use it as open season to just eat like an out of control person because it is a  holiday.

Balance. Moderation. Be sensible. It works.

One thing I’ve learned on my health journey that’s been freeing is that the food is always there. The chocolate is there. I don’t have to just drop into the deep end and gorge like I’ll never have it again.

I know I can. I know I will. I just let myself live in those boundaries.

Will I maybe have more than “usual” of food or treats over the weekend?

Most likely, yes.

Will my body let me know it’s not used to it and get back on track ? Absolutely.

That, my friend is how you need to train yourself too.

After a celebratory weekend you should be focused on getting back to what you do ( which is hopefully eating well) .

You don’t have to throw in the towel.

You don’t have to wait till another day to “start”.

You don’t have to feel guilt or beat yourself up.

You don’t have to go to the gym and workout longer or extra hard to burn off calories you’ve consumed days before.  ( PLEASE! don’t)

What can you do? What should you do ?

Don’t weight yourself! It’s not “fat” you’ve gained but a healthy dose of water weight. If you need to weigh yourself, wait at least one day before you do. You don’t get “fat” from eating some extra calories for a day or two.

Be thankful for the day you had with friends and family.

Be thankful you were able to enjoy good foods and treats.

Pick right up with your balanced and sensible eating.

Do your exercise ( whatever you do) do it how you usually do. Don’t attempt to push yourself harder ( you may get hurt)

Refocus on your goals and remember living a healthy lifestyle also enjoys room to breathe and enjoy life and get back on track again.

Love yourself.  You’re doing a great job.

The key to success is to keep moving forward and staying positive.

I understand this may be a foreign concept to you, but with a little practice and patience, you will learn to implement it into a part of your healthy lifestyle 🙂

A New Year And A New Start

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Hello beautiful people and Happy New Year to you! I hope you’re still out there since it’s been awhile that I’ve offered anything up to you… I’m still here!

2016 ended with a lot going on, not to mention the usual Christmas events and celebrations to prepare for. A big thing for me was finally having to move my dad out of his home into a personal care home  in December as his Alzheimers had greatly progressed and he needed constant care.

Unfortunately, my 2017 started off with him passing away a few days into the new year. Even though we knew he would be leaving us soon, the finality is always something you still have to contend with.

Ah…kinda  heavy stuff to start the year off with but life keeps moving… right?

Even with so much going on in my life, a new year always inspires me, gives me a fresh focus and vision with things I want to accomplish or try. A new year full of opportunities and goals to set.  And trust me, I have new goals already set.

As usual I’ve heard from many people about their weight loss and fitness goals. That this is going to be “their year” for success. They are ready to get going on “the journey”.

And of course, all of the weight loss products are out in full force on every aisle in the store along with your neighbors who are pedaling stuff and are now experts on nutrition and health … I’ve said it once I’ll say it again… you don’t need any of that to be successful… save your money for new clothes…

it’s sounds old school but solid nutrition and some healthy movement are the only things that will give you life long success at staying healthy and fit.

Sooooo….you have good intentions. You’re ready. More importantly, you’re mentally ready to begin this process… and it IS a process. It’s not something you will achieve overnight but if you keep at it, will be a lifelong process of health and well being… it will just be what you do every day without thinking about it.

Where does one start? How does one start? Do you feel overwhelmed before you begin?

You aren’t alone.  I remember multiple attempts before it finally “stuck”. What made it different for me? What got me moving in a permanent forward direction?

I’ll share a few things with you….

First, I had to just make a commitment to myself to do it. Not for my husband or kids or so I could wear skinny jeans . It has to be for you. This is your life, your body, you are responsible for taking care of it and keeping it healthy and well.  Do it for you.

Own where you are and be honest with yourself. If you’re overweight you know it. It’s not a surprise. Be real and then get real with how you’re going to change it.

Set realistic goals.

Understand, no one, at all can do the work for you. I can offer someone tips, suggestions, food and exercise ideas etc but if they don’t follow through and do the work…well… then they go no where.  What you eat, how much, if you get out for some exercise, it all falls on you.

Know that you will have a good and bad days. It’s important to just keep going. No quitting. No deciding nothing is ever going to change. You commit to one day at a time, hopefully making more positive choices than negative and you live the day you’re in.

Get honest with yourself and really examine your relationship with food.. why do you eat? what makes you reach for food? are there things that trigger you eating?  Getting an understanding of food and how you interact with it will be helpful on your journey. For instance, one thing I identified early on, was that I came from a family of emotional eaters. Over time, I’ve really learned to rein that in, be aware of it, and have  control over it.

Don’t let the scale be your judge and jury to your health journey. It’s a tool. It in no way reflects your overall health and well being. Use it carefully.. maybe just once a week. Note the numbers and move on.  Things like losing inches, lab results (reflecting internal health), getting stronger, or faster  and your mental well being aren’t reflected on the scale.

Start small. Start with one thing to change at a  time. If you’ve never exercised maybe aiming for 2-3 times in a week would be a good starting place.  If you always eat seconds maybe work back on not eating those. Learn to listen to your body…seconds really… are for our mouth and eyes…not our tummies which are usually satisfied.

Food. Don’t cut out everything you love and go on some restrictive diet that makes you want to quit in a week. Eat enough food to satisfy your hunger, no more. Eat when you get hungry. Don’t eat when you aren’t.

Work on eliminating junk type foods. Simple carbs should be minimal in your daily nutrition ( that means things like cookies, candy, soda, sugary drinks, boxed snacks/foods, chips, processed foods, baked goods , fast food etc)

Complex carbs… those found in fruits,  green veggies, whole grains, beans/peas, sweet potatoes, oatmeal, pasta etc should begin to fill your plate along with protein and healthy fats.

Treats. I always tell people I’ve been successful by not restricting myself from things I love.  I learned early on to really appreciate and savor a small treat over nothing at all. Literally, I could get a few chocolate kisses with my coffee at night and it satisfied the need for a sweet treat. It wasn’t anything that would sabatoge my work for the day and I didn’t ultimately go on some binge because I had overly restricted myself.

With a determined mind set, a willingness to change, the knowledge to take baby steps and progress slowly knowing change takes time, and making small changes in your nutrition and exercise program, 2017 will for sure be your year to achieve a lifestyle of health and fitness.

And the most important ingredient to your success? Don’t quit!

Thanksgiving And Norman Rockwell Expectations

In just a few days we will be celebrating Thanksgiving here in the U.S.

Let’s just call it a day full of food, family, friends and football.

And pie.

But pie doesn’t tie in to my cute list of “F” items 😉

But yesssss… pie.

I do plot and plan a week out, make my list and check it twice ( oops wrong holiday) and preparations are in full swing the  Wednesday beforehand ( someone’s gotta make all those pies!)

Anyway, without fail, every year I find myself admiring the magazines with the full color , glossy beautiful spread of festive Thanksgiving tables.

The perfect china. The spotless glassware. The glistening silver. The without fail amazing centerpiece crowning the table.

The entire, whole, perfectly browned turkey on the platter with lovely garnishes all around it waiting to have the matching cutting knife and fork taken to it.

 

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My turkey will never look like this…..

 

 

All that’s missing is the family in a perfect matching ensemble seated expectantly around the table.

And all I can think is…. “For Real?”

Oh, it seems so ideally perfect and lovely. You know… “Norman Rockwell’ish”.

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Are those stalks of celery on the plate???

 

 

I’ve had late night fantasies about it…. fantasies…. ’cause no matter what my intentions are I know that it will just never unfold.

Our Thanksgivings tend to be on the more ordinary bend and look a bit like this…

By that I mean, I’m happy if I have enough chairs to squeeze everyone around the table and wonder if there are gonna be enough dinner forks or do I need to break out the salad forks ?

I really want to have a super cool table centerpiece, but, well on years I’ve had something  clever it gets moved to make room for …you know.. the food.

The coffee is happily brewing but it’s not served in china cups.. my coffee mug collection has become a bit more eclectic over time.. kinda like me 😉

I usually have the turkey cut, wrapped and waiting, while attempting to keep my sons from grazing off of it.

My roomy kitchen starts to feel small as people arrive and hang out there.. I attempt to hold on to my organization of how things are running…

Football is already on, and the men in my family want it at levels to simulate being in a crowded stadium with 100,000 people.

It’s guaranteed I’m tripping over a dog who’s hoping I make a fatal move with some food that will land on the floor and they will be the clean up crew for it.

I’m trying to keep an eye on everything cooking on the stove, trying to remember what’s in ‘fridge that needs to go to table ( nothing like finding a dish or two still in there afterwards 😛 )

Somewhere in the midst of cooking and wrangling people, I’ve made an attempt to look somewhat put together and cute for the day. Given it’s usually warm on Thanksgiving it could mean I’m in shorts… sigh… no cute sweaters..

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I have a million thoughts running through my head one of which is… “If I eat a piece of pie now, will anyone know?” haha

Somehow though, it all comes together.

The food all makes it to the table, it’s still mostly hot, everyone has a seat and a fork 😉

it’s often loud, crazy, and a bit chaotic. The football game has been (temporarily) quieted  and I am grateful to finally sit down and enjoy the fruit of my labor.

My Thanksgivings might not look like the glossy pages from holiday magazine. But as everyone quiets down and we join hands and bow our head to give thanks for all the blessings we’ve been given and the plentiful amount of food before us I’m reminded again, it’s not in the trappings or how perfect I want everything to be that matters.

No. That’s not it at all.

It’s each and every person gathered around the table that matters and makes it meaningful to me, they are the gifts that I am most thankful for and grateful to have gathered  with me.

That to me, is the deepest meaning of Thanksgiving.  No matter where you are on our big planet, I hope you take a moment to give thanks for the blessings you have and the people who bless you, for that is what matters most in life.

 

thanksgiving-images

Breakfast Makes Champions

breakfast

 

Breakfast. The most important meal of the day, or so your Mom always told you. Turns out she was right. So why then, do so many people not take Mom’s advice ?

Breakfast is the most skipped meal of the day.

Why? Two reasons are at the top of the list. People believe they are “to busy”, or they view skipping breakfast as a way to help “lose weight”.

Oh, I was there in the past. I, like many out there, had this ridiculous misguided notion that if I did, it would help me lose weight.

So it went like this:

Wake up from an all  night fast. ( bet you never thought of it like that, did you? But think about the last time you ate…you’ve been fasting)

Think about how I needed to lose weight ( or if I was at a “thin zone” it was to help keep me there and I decided starvation mode was a much better plan than anything else.)

Start my day and then get progressively hungrier.

Finally, lunch time, with a small amount of food.

Then afternoon hit and the “small” snacking began to try and off set the hunger I’d been battling all day. “Just enough to hold me till dinner…..”

And then… the main event… the BIG thing I’d waited for. My first real, satisfying meal all day long.

Dinner. Let the feasting begin.

Are you shaking your head agreeing? Been there done that? Maybe you still do. I hope not.

I have been reformed from such thinking, a few years now.

Why?

I figured out I feel better ( go figure) I eat better in my day and I eat less, and hey I’m really not into starving for fun… not anymore… food is good.

Unfortunately, the thinking that breakfast leads to weight loss is just not true. In fact, it works against us.  Feeding our bodies something in the morning kick starts our metabolism, stabilizes blood sugar, gives our bodies necessary vitamins and minerals and hey, our tummy stops making bad noises 😉 It also reduces our risk for over eating or cravings later in the day. It also stands to reason without properly fueling your body, you will be lacking energy and be less physically active.

I’ve learned by paying attention to my body if I eat a good, solid protein packed breakfast, I don’t think about food for a long time.  I don’t crave anything and I feel level ( meaning my blood sugar level stays nice and steady which helps with cravings or getting hungry)

I ‘ve also had to learn from an athletic standpoint that I need a “mini meal” or snack before I take off on some physical activity that will keep my body going for an hour or hours.  This has been a process for me because my old way of disordered thinking is ” I don’t need those extra calories”… but actually I do.

I’ve also had to learn how to fuel my body after my long workouts. Now days the danger for me is not eating enough sometimes to really replace what I’ve lost and keep me from getting hungry soon after again.

Breakfast is important. Breakfast is the kick start fuel for our day. If you’re athletic it plays an even stronger role in your day.

Do you know you should structure your meals in probably the exact opposite of the way you eat them ?

We tend to eat dinner as our biggest meal of the day. Ideally you should start with breakfast being your bigger meal, a smaller lunch, and dinner being your lightest meal.

If you think about it, it makes sense.  You need more calories and energy to take on the demands of your day than when you are winding down for the evening and going to be more sedentary.

So if you aren’t a breakfast eater, or think you are just “to busy” to eat it what do you do ?

First, if you aren’t try be practicing with small things in the morning. Maybe a banana and milk or a glass of oj and a piece of toast… anything small to begin the shift of making it a new habit.

If you think you’re to busy.. trust me… I get it! Some mornings I come sailing in from a workout with my mind on what I need to get to and before I know it I’m cleaning up and I know I need food but I just don’t have time to cook.

One of my favorite easy protein packed go to “meals” is a bowl of non-fat plain Greek yogurt loaded with fresh berries and almonds.  I can easily eat it while I’m getting ready.  I also use cottage cheese sometimes instead of the yogurt.

Consider other things that are fast you can eat… fresh fruit, hard boiled eggs, cheese, a bagel, oatmeal with dried fruit and nuts.. Get creative with things you like that are easy and fast to eat.

The idea is to find foods you can eat that will give you energy, help kick start your morning, and give you the best start to your day you can get.

With a little practice you’ll be on the road to eating a good breakfast and having more energy for all you have to do in your busy day 🙂