Emotional Eating

What do you think of when you hear the term “emotional eating”? Do you imagine compulsive bingeing on break-up ice cream sundaes? Do you think it only exists for weak people who cannot control themselves around food?  Do you think it is an excuse people use to overeat? I think emotional eating has become a common way of life for most of our modern society. With the amount of marketing money spent by the food industry and the pressure for people to achieve sometimes unrealistic goals, we have all probably experienced emotional eating at some time in our lives. Using food to placate and soothe ourselves is emotional eating. Eating for reasons other than nourishing our bodies is emotional eating. It is not a sign of weakness, it is a coping mechanism.

root vegetables

On my own journey of clean eating, I am discovering that I experience emotional eating on a regular basis. It doesn’t have to be a dramatic episode of bingeing and purging, it can be as simple as eating out of boredom, frustration, stress, or any other reason other than physical hunger. My current meal plan has forced me to ask myself several times a day “Am I hungry or just bored?” or “Why exactly do I want to eat that?” It has made me become AWARE of my choices and my actions, and subsequently, the consequences.

When we start to slow down and feel the emotions connected to our eating we take the first step in separating our feelings from our eating habits. When we learn what we are truly hungry for we then can make the choices necessary to feed that hunger rather than habitually reaching for food. This can be a new way of looking at things for people who are changing the way they eat. It might be much harder to deal with emotions rather than eat your favorite, familiar, comfort food.

mexican pastries

I find myself craving sweets directly after a meal. Or sometimes it’s a texture of a food I crave- something smooth and creamy when I’m agitated. Or salty when I’m happy. Cravings can indicate many things- physically or emotionally. Step 1 is to slow down enough to actually feel what you are feeling. Then decide what it is you really are hungry for- a hug? a talk? a nap? validation? approval? rest?

I LOVE this quote from Geneen Roth’s book “Women, Food, and God”, to me it sums up everything-

“We don’t want to EAT hot fudge sundaes as much as we want our lives to BE hot fudge sundaes. We want to come home to ourselves”

We want to be whole. We want to experience our whole range of emotions- both good and bad, and covering them up with food does not allow that to happen. The healthier our diet is and the more nourishment we get from real, whole foods, the less likely our cravings will come from a physical aspect. So we can then deal with our true hunger in a different way and begin to figure out what will feed us on a deeper level.


Weights or Cardio for Best Results?

A common mistake when working out to lose weight or lower body-fat is overdoing cardio and not adding in enough weight-resistant training. I see people on the treadmill day after day, week after week, trying to change their body composition without ever picking up a weight.  I think women especially are afraid to lift weights in fear of “bulking up” or putting on too much muscle. The truth is it’s very difficult for most women to build a significant amount of muscle or to become too bulky without using drugs.

Strong muscle tissue supports the joints and ligaments and helps to prevent injury. As we age our muscle mass decreases by 4% each year; a good reason to invest early in building stores of muscle. And a strong, sculpted body looks as healthy as it is. Muscles support sagging skin that often accompanies weight-loss and helps to create a toned, taught appearance.

I’m a big believer in combining strength training, cardio, and flexibility for the best results. Cardio exercise is a great way to burn calories and strengthen our heart, but building muscle with weight training benefits you in different ways that contribute to weight loss and fat loss. Muscle continues to burn calories even at rest so all your workouts are more efficient.

I’ve lifted weights since I was 20 years old and it’s definitely my favorite thing to do in the gym.

I feel powerful and confident when I lift and I find the results are faster than anything else combined with proper nutrition. I also practice and teach yoga and love the flexibility and length my muscles achieve in yoga. It’s the perfect compliment to weight training.

Cardio is my least favorite thing to do- I only do 2 or 3x’s a week and because I’m building muscle I don’t need as much. I’ve been using the Jacob’s Ladder which is a hellish device that burns about 500 calories in a 30 minute session. It’s the hardest cardio workout I’ve ever done. We have a love/hate relationship!

Jacobs ladder

Recently I’ve started incorporating HIIT (High Intensity Interval Training) into my cardio days to mix things up. Short bursts of intense movement done back to back to keep the heart rate elevated. Hard but effective!

A typical HIIT workout I would do might be:
2 minutes on high incline treadmill
25 jump squats
25 jump splits
2 minutes on elliptical
1 minute rest
Repeat the whole cycle 3 or 4 times

Finding the right work-out with the right meal plan is key to reaching your goals. I’ve changed my work-out while I’m on my 6 week meal plan to heavier weights and more intense cardio sessions, but not necessarily more often. My goal is to build muscle and lower my body-fat. I don’t really care what the scale says because muscle weighs more than fat. I’m more concerned with my muscle mass index climbing.

Here is a half-way progress shot- 3 weeks into my 6 week workout and meal plan. Feeling very strong and excited about seeing results!!

6 week ,eal plan

Meal Prepping 101

People want to know exactly what I do to prepare for the week on my 6 week meal plan. Having healthy, prepared meals ready to eat is the key to keeping on track with clean eating. You will need to set aside a block of time in your week that you can devote to organizing a list, shopping, cooking, and containing your meals for the week. I do mine on Sunday but it doesn’t have to be, it’s whatever works for your schedule. It shouldn’t take anymore than 2 hours once you figure out a rhythm.

Here are a few tips that work for me:

-Plan and write out your meals for the week, write down your grocery list before going to the store. Be sure to include lean protein, complex carbs, fresh produce

-Divide meat/fish into 3 days servings, cook enough for 3 days and store the rest in freezer

-Buy large container of medium size eggs (30 count) for the best value

-Buy in bulk when available: tuna, oats, olive oil, brown rice, quinoa, frozen berries, frozen meat

-Do all the cooking at one time while your oven is heated. Ex: bake sweet potatoes and root vegetables while you’re baking chicken or fish.

Today I did chicken with root vegetables, fish, greens, and sweet potatoes all at the same time. My oven was packed!

healthy cooking

For the baked chicken I surrounded the breasts with the veggies and sprinkled some herbs de provence, garlic, and lemon pepper. After covering with foil I baked for 1 hour at 375 . I turned off the oven and let it sit for 30 more minutes. This makes it very juicy!

baked chicken with root veggies

More tips:

-Bake 4-6 sweet potatoes at a time, plain, pierced with fork and wrapped in foil. Store in fridge for easy access. Keep cooked meat tightly covered in fridge

-Keep measuring cups out on counter for oatmeal and brown rice servings. Use the “palm” rule to measure your protein serving. The serving should be no larger than the size of your palm.

-Keep greens sealed in the produce drawer and don’t wash until before cooking. Cooked kale/spinach can be kept for 2 days before getting soggy

I roast broccoli, cauliflower, and asparagus with a little olive oil in a 375 oven for about 30 minutes or until it begins to get golden.

roasted greens

-Have fresh garlic, white onions, and fresh lemons on hand for seasoning.

-Have adequate supply of small serving containers to pack lunches, keep lids and containers together.  Also have plenty of aluminum foil, regular and heavy duty.

I bake/steam one large fillet of cod or salmon with lemon juice, dill, onion, and lemon pepper in a 375 degree oven for about 25-30 minutes. This can be divided into 2 meals.

baked salmon

-Prepare lunch the night before and keep in fridge

You may have to make an additional trip to the store during the week to stock up on fresh produce or meat. At least until you figure out how much to buy. It takes effort to eat like this but the pay-off is so much greater than the time spent.

For more info on clean eating and nutrition counseling visit me at www.createwholehealth.com

Are You Eating Enough??

One of the biggest mistakes that people make when trying to lose weight or get lean is to cut back too much on caloric intake. We skip meals or replace food with smoothies or juice thinking we are burning up additional stores of fat by restricting calories. But actually the opposite is true. Our bodies go into “red alert” and begin to store more fat in preparation for fewer calories. That is our metabolism slowing down and who needs that?

Maybe it feels healthy to have a green juice for lunch when in reality that is not nearly enough calories, protein, or fiber to get you through the day. Eventually your body will crave more nutrients and this may lead to an unhealthy binge. Instead, choose REAL food in moderation that will fuel your body to move.

The point is: We need to eat more, not less, in order to lose weight or maintain a healthy weight. Eating smaller, more frequent meals balanced with protein, complex carbs, and healthy fats throughout the day will keep our metabolism up and our bodies fueled properly. Skip the no-carb or no-fat diets. Cutting out any particular food group in order to lose weight makes about as much sense as filling your gas tank with oil and expecting your car to run. We need it ALL to function properly.

Choose lean proteins, complex carbs, and lots of fresh vegetables- here is a typical lunch for me:

balanced meal

Cut out the processed and packaged foods, white sugar, white flour, and alcohol and you will find you have more energy, clarity, and focus. Unlike a diet, you won’t feel hungry or deprived when you are eating more often. It might be take more effort than skipping meals or buying a latte for lunch, but in the end it is what produces lasting results.

Preparation is the magic key with clean-eating. I prep most of my food for the week on Sunday evening

meal prepping

By the way, here is a 2 week photo update of my progress on a 6 week clean-eating meal plan. I took this just 2 weeks after changing my eating habits and already noticed a change in my body:

2 weeks progress

Want to learn more about creating healthy habits in your own life? Visit me at CreateWholeHealth

“Food is Fuel” Week 2

I am two weeks into my 6 week meal plan and I feel really amazing! I have lots of energy, I feel much stronger at the gym and I am still sleeping so much better. Have I noticed any visual changes yet? No, and that can be frustrating, but I am not the most patient person in the world. Ask my boyfriend if you don’t believe me.

I feel like I am feeding 4 teenage boys with all the cooking I am doing for myself.  I cook on Sunday nights and usually again on Wednesday. I am learning to add more sweet potatoes in my initial batch because they keep great in the fridge. Chicken breasts I only do 4 at a time, but then those are gone in 2 days.

grilled chicken breasts

I stocked up on tuna packets and make a lean salad with tuna, hard-boiled egg white, lemon juice, dill, and mustard. It’s pretty tasty and tangy.

My  breakfasts look like this:

healthy breakfast

Spinach and tomato omelette and bowl of oats with berries and cinnamon. Sometimes I put a dash of vanilla in the for flavor, but I am enjoying the pure flavor of the foods without a lot of seasoning. I started adding avocado slices for healthy fats and to keep me full feeling for awhile.

Packing my meals to go when I have to has not been a problem either. The biggest surprise was last weekend on my “splurge” meal when I was supposed to eat whatever I wanted. I didn’t really have a craving for anything in particular except I wanted to try a new ice-cream shop everyone loves. I have not eaten junk in so long that nothing else seemed tempting. All I really miss is my beloved honey and homemade sweet treats.

My mind is so focused on treating my body well and feeding it what it needs to perform that the ice cream didn’t satisfy me. I am moving so far away from emotional eating and learning how my body absorbs and uses nutrients that I am losing interest in giving it sugar, heavy cream, artificial flavorings or color.

My typical meals look like this:

healthy meal

A protein, a green veggie, and a starch. Plus lots of water throughout the day and herbal tea. No weight loss or loose fitting clothes yet but I am looking forward to noticing some changes in the next 2 weeks for sure!

6 Weeks to Sleek Abs

I am 1 week in to a 6 week meal plan given to me by my favorite trainer- my boyfriend: the gym owner, the workout guru, the scientist, the muscle-whisperer. I wanted to amp up my workouts and training and needed to know where to start so I got tested in a bod-pod which accurately measures body mass/ fat/muscle ratio. The results showed my body fat percentage was much higher than I expected. My muscle mass ratio needs to come up and my body fat will balance out with that. Because I’m a capricorn and love to have a goal, my goal is to lower my body fat by 5%.

What’s funny is I already had started the new eating plan before I knew all that. It proves once again that we know instinctively what our bodies need and crave. Bottom line was I wasn’t eating enough.I was snick-snacking all day long on lovely little sweet treats that I whipped up and wrote about. I was eating tons of great vegetables that were filling me up but not satisfying my body’s needs.  I definitely wasn’t getting enough protein; the building block of muscles, tissue, and cell growth.


As hard as I like to train at the gym I wondered why I wasn’t seeing the results I wanted. This sounds like an infomercial for some pills or something but the real answer is in how we choose to fuel our bodies. So here’s what I’ve started doing to change my eating patterns:

– I eat 5-6 smalls meals a day keeping my metabolism fired up

– I include lean protein, complex carbs, and veggies in most of those meals

grilled chicken spinach salad

– I stopped eating empty calories (for now) in the form of sugar, flour, or cheese

– I also cut way back on fruits to decrease my sugar intake

– I am balancing my protein intake with my workouts so I eat more protein on the days I’m training

– I get my carbs/protein from real food sources, not shakes or powder

Week one was a lot of work. Lots of shopping, cooking, prepping, and storing meals to grab and go. Now that I have a pattern down this week will be a bit easier. Surprisingly, I am eating often but I still always have an appetite. My body is digesting the food easily and converting it to fuel. I have lots of energy and strength and my sleep is so much better for some reason.

I am learning ways to be creative with chicken and fish but usually just grill or steam them. Clean food is best when not messed with too much. Sweet potatoes are my sweet comfort sprinkled with cinnamon sans the coconut manna. My old standby breakfast of  oatmeal is without honey and nuts (for now) and truth is I don’t even miss it anymore. Eggs are also a staple in my day.

I’m excited to see how else my body and mind continue to adjust to this new pattern.