Monthly Archives: November 2013

New Cabinet!

This weekend Mom and I attended the Wethersfield Antique Show, mostly to learn some new things and so she could talk with Mad River Antiques.  It’s not the sort of event that has a lot of things we can afford, although we were there very early in the day and folks were happy to deal.  We needed to kill some time after arriving so we left and checked out a nearby furniture consignment shop, just on a whim.

I fell in love.

There was a wooden cabinet, clearly well loved, but in great shape by the register.  It was the same era as my house.  And it ended up in my kitchen, thanks to Mom’s encouragement.  We had been using a wire rack to hold the plates, cups and bowls, but this is so much nicer looking and way more storage.

 

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Eating the Moment, Ex. 1

Once again I am following along with the exercises in Eating the Moment: 141 Mindful Practices to Overcome Overeating One Meal at a Time by Pavel Somov, Ph.D..  I tried to do these previously, but chickened out after doing a few of the practices.  I saw some of the things that were further in the book and anticipated discomfort and fear.  Michelle, who sometimes plays my Jiminy Cricket, would of course point out that it means i should do them, but i put the book on the shelf instead.

No, really, i'm eating beets for breakfast these days.

No, really, i’m eating beets for breakfast these days.

Since i’m trying to develop a healthy relationship with food, i felt like this was a good time to come back to it.

The first section is in relation to triggers, the things that tell your mind or body to eat or what to eat.  For example, you might drive by a billboard for Dunkin Donuts and suddenly desire coffee (a particular challenge of mine!).  Triggers can be timing, sights, smells, places, emotions, experiences or just about anything else.

The first practice in the book is to ask, after you eat, “Why did I just eat?”.   He doesn’t suggest modifying anything, just simply notice why you ate.  Since I’m currently trying to be healthier and modifying some habits, the results of this exercise show some bias.  Had i done this a few weeks ago there would be a lot more reasons like boredom, sadness, loneliness, craving, habit and unknown.  I allowed myself to have multiple reasons for each time i ate, although he suggest finding the primary reason.

Out of 31 “eating incidents” (meals and snacks), almost 75% of the time hunger was a factor.  That’s a great sign for me, indicating i’m not overeating as much as i have in the past.  An additional 6% included feeling thirsty, which makes sense, as they were at breakfast when i’ve been having fruit & veggie smoothies.

5 out of 7 breakfasts also included the word “fuel”, which was a feeling of needing energy, but not really feeling hunger.  I suspect this is because i have been working out in the mornings before breakfast, which often reduces my appetite for an hour or so.

Almost half of the times i ate were at least in part triggered by time.  I’ve always known routine and habit drive me, but didn’t consider how it effected my eating habits.  Since many of those times i was also at least beginning to feel hungry, I’m guessing my portions are about right for my schedule.  Lunches and snacks at work also sometimes were at least partially due to wanting a distraction or entertainment.  My week day lunches are an excuse to stop report writing or calculations and read or write for pleasure.  I should be careful not to just assume noon means break for lunch, but to make sure i listen to my body.

There were cravings, mostly for sweet, which isn’t shocking for me.  Some of those corresponded with emotional needs, and others with aiming to meet my calorie quota for the day.  I’ve said before, I don’t think cravings are all bad, so long as they are managed and accounted for.

Other reasons I ate?  Knowing food wouldn’t be available later when i would be very hungry, wanting to try something new when it was offered, being tempted by the scent of fresh bread, feeling cold and tired, and being at an event where eating was expected (although i timed my other meals so i would be hungry at the appropriate time).  There were also two incidents were  was disappointed with earlier meals (both flavor and portion size) where i didn’t make great choices later on.  That’s definitely something I’ll need to work on managing in the future.

I’m currently working on Practice 2, which is similar, but asking before you eat “Why am I about to eat?”, then choosing to eat or not.  As i’m currently having a little trouble remembering to write things down before I eat, I may go a little longer than a week on this, but we’ll see what i discover!

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“To be without some of the things you want is an indispensable part of happiness.”
– Bertrand Russell

Every week day i get a nice little email as part of The Happiness Project.  Today’s was particularly on-point.

I’ve been craving peanut butter of all things.  I think it’s the salty-sweet flavor, and that i’ve been packing peanut butter or just peanuts in the husband’s lunches lately. Peanut butter & jelly sandwiches are one of my comfort foods.  Flavorful, full of carbs and sugar, just enough protein to prevent a quick crash.  There have been times when i’m sad or bored I’ve eaten multiple in a day.  Because they are such a temptation food, i’ve been avoiding them.

The boys are getting together tonight to game, however, and i decided to make beef stew.  But i wanted something to go with it, so I tried a new recipe, Bob’s Red Mill Three Seed Bread.  Growing up we used to get what my dad called “birdseed bread”, a multigrain with lots of seeds, and i admit, I kind of miss it!  I haven’t been able to make or buy something quite like it.  This wasn’t quite the same, but it came out great!

I enjoyed it with some Justin’s Maple Almond Butter.  And when i say enjoyed, i mean really savored each bite.  I could taste the different flavors, enjoying the salty and sweet.  There were different textures of the bread, the seeds and the spread.  

I’m currently reading Foodist: Using Real Food and Real Science to Lose Weight Without Dieting, by Darya Pino Rose, Ph.D.  One of the things she has referenced so far is an experiment about denial and delayed gratification.  The experiment was individuals were told to not eat some candy that was available as they watched a short film.  Some were asked to imagine never eating the candy, and others were asked to skip them now, but could have some later if they wanted.  A control group got to eat the candy during the film.  After the film, everyone was allowed to eat the candy.  Those who delayed the gratification ate less than those who were denied and the control group!  

Many of my cravings are about habit and immediate satisfaction, even if the taste is mediocre.  When i tell myself i can have it later (if i still want it), I feel safer somehow.  I have the transportation and funds available to purchase food if i really want it later.  Sometimes the craving passes unfulfilled, and sometimes (like this craving for peanut butter!), i should address it.  

Fulfilling this desire wasn’t cheap calorie wise, but it was entirely “real food”, with delicious flavors.  I felt no guilt about enjoying it, and even ate it in addition to my smoothie, as i wanted some veggie.  Did i really just type that?  I wanted green, in the morning?  Me? I can and should! have delicious foods.  Cravings can be important, but not urgent, to use a Franklin Covey explanation.  I’m pretty sure I won’t die if i wait and see if i really want that candy bar.

One side effect of making all this real food is I am spending a LOT more time in the kitchen.  I think i will ask for an iPhone speaker thingy for Christmas, so i can play Pandora as i cook.  Currently I carry my chromebook down, which is fine, but the speakers are so-so.  I have a small speaker ball type thing, which is OK quality sound and definitely louder, but it would be neat to have something i could leave in one place.  

I’ve already asked for a new yoga mat, so it may be a very practical holiday for me.  Which I’m totally OK with!  

“To be without …

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Kale-Apple Smoothie

Kale-Apple Smoothie

This morning i made myself a Kale-Apple Smoothie, based on this recipe from Real Simple.  It came out awesome, although i did need to add an extra half cup of water to thin it out enough to easily drink (and for the immersion blender to do it’s magic).  I froze all my fruit and veg the night before, so it was ready to go.  It’s more than two hours later and i still feel content hunger-wise.  This may be one of my go-to’s when i have some kale to use up.  Which right now we do!  This was the last week of our autumn farm share and we received two big bunches of it!

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What is a healthy relationship with food anyway?

So i’m working on developing a “healthy relationship with food”.  But i want to explain what that means, both for my own clarification and to see what it means for other folks.

1) Food is fuel.  I can’t not eat and expect to be healthy, energetic or happy, just like i can’t expect my car to run without gas or my computer to run without electricity.  Not eating, or under eating is not a healthy habit.  Yes, in order to lose weight one needs to create some calorie deficit, however it needs to still be in the functional range.  I want to be at my best, and that means ensuring i have enough fuel to do so.

2) Variety is important.  Eating only one food group, color, flavor, shape, texture, temperature or any other characteristic means i’ll be limiting my nutrition.  Eating a variety of things will help provide me with lots of different vitamins and nutrients my body needs.  It will also prevent me from getting bored.  It is easy to fall into patterns, but those patterns need to include a variety of foods.  

3) Foods are not good or bad.  Some options might be better choices – a handful of nuts will keep me satiated longer than a handful of jelly beans for example, but the jelly beans are not evil.  I might feel more virtuous having chosen the grilled chicken salad, but i am not a bad person if i want the cheeseburger, or even if i choose it.  More accurate questions are will this food/meal get me closer to my goals?  Does this fit in with the intentions i’ve set?  How will i feel after eating this?  Do i really want this thing, or is there another reason it seems attractive?  Can i get the same enjoyment with something else that will fit closer with my intentions?

4) Eating should be a conscious decision.  Eating out of habit, emotion or boredom is not a healthy relationship with food.  Recognizing when i am hungry, and eating enough to calm that hunger is good.  Making a conscious decision of what to eat and when is the most important thing I can do towards being healthier.  For me, logging is critical here, as it creates a moment to pause and ask myself if this is really what i want to eat.

5) The numbers are not in control of me.  The scale, my calorie count, my calorie budget, my pedometer, my heart rate monitor and my clothing size do not define me.  I am much more than any of these things.  Numbers are metrics, but do not measure my happiness or relationships.  

6) Portion size matters.  I’m a short woman.  I can’t eat as much as my husband, who is almost a foot taller than me, and a hundred pounds heavier.  I need to be content with what is on my plate and not compare to his (which often has some ‘extras’ as well).  It can feel tedious to measure stuff out, but it really makes a difference!  If i am still hungry (after pausing to drink some water and let my food settle), i can always get something else.  

7) Water is awesome.  Water is necessary for your body to run properly, fills you up, cleans you out and tastes good.  I know folks get accustomed to sodas and flavored beverages, but really, water is probably one of the best things for you.  For me, a healthy relationship with food includes drinking lots of water.

8) Be adventurous.  Try new flavors, recipes and cooking techniques.  Try new restaurants.  Look at different meal plans.  I get stuck in habits, and then the habits degrade to what is fastest, most comforting and easiest.  Keeping things interesting really helps break that cycle.  It also helps the mindful, choice driven aspect of eating for me.  

9) Enjoy whats on the plate.  Whether its a salad of leftovers, a carefully made dish at home or a burger and fries out.  Food is delicious and worth enjoying.  Don’t feel guilty over a meal, even it its not towards your goals.  Guilt just makes you feel bad, and can serve as an excuse to give up on good habits.  Savor what you eat as you eat it.  Enjoy it.  And then, if necessary, make adjustments.  That pie was too good to pass up?  Maybe eat a little less later on, but if not, it’s ok.  A friend of mine likes to quote her WW leader “if you trip on one step, you don’t throw yourself down the rest of the stairs”, yet so often we do with food.  

10) One bite at a time.  This is big, hard stuff, even if it sounds simple.  For me a healthy relationship with food is going to be a long, hard process, but it’s totally possible.  The way to do it?  One bite at a time.  Let meals in the past be in the past, future meals be handled in the future, and focus on what is in front of me now.  It’s not about one big decision, but hundreds, maybe even thousands of small ones.

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