Your Excuse to Eat Whatever You Want

This is your excuse to eat the chocolate covered whatever. 

What if it were healthy to eat chocolate covered peanut butter pretzels? 

When I worked for an eating disorder treatment center, this was a no-brainer. The sickest patients needed to eat.  

The staff encouraged clients to eat caloric snacks and presented them with "fear foods." These "fear foods" included cookie butter, oreos, and chocolate covered peanut butter pretzels. 

These women NEEDED these snacks. 

They needed them because they needed something with lots of protein and fat. They needed them because they needed the calories. They needed them because they needed to have a neutral relationship with food. 

At the eating disorder treatment center, the dietitians often used nutrition to support this. For example, we might explain to a patient that ice cream has calcium.  Butter, too, has some nutritional benefits. 

Food serves several roles in our lives. 

We need nutrients to survive. Protein and fat are two critical macro nutrients. Macro is Greek for large. In other words, it means they are a large part of nutrients we need. (cite sources). 

Calories give our bodies the fuel it needs to do its thing. Calories are just a measure of energy. (cite source). 

We need to feel normal around food. Feeling crazy around food is asking for trouble. We eat food three times a day at least. Would you think it's healthy to feel crazy three times every day? 

We need to eat to re-connect. This is where I get all weird and religious. Going to church as a kid and eating transubstantiated Jesus was about "communion." It's about getting together with your neighbors, hanging out and eating. This can be a spiritual practice if that word doesn't freak you out or it can be social or emotional.

Dieting and eating disorders isolate people. They make it harder to cook a meal for everyone. They make it harder for everyone to eat together. 

 Try to remember that food is something you're supposed to eat. 

I remember when I was a kid, I used to just think all foods were healthy and good for me. I never worried that food was poisoning me. 

My goal as a coach is to make you feel that way again. I want to make you feel like you are safe and able to eat without fear.  

Before you jump in with your rebuttal, I know we live in a post Michael Pollan world. We can't run around and believe that we will get our daily value of magnesium from 24 oz Coke products. But, I think we can find something valuable from anything we might choose to consume. 

Is there any food that you're afraid of? Write it down in the comments. I've got my college nutrition book out and my thinking cap on. I will respond to everything with a reason why it might be healthy to eat it. Extra credit if you have your own reason.

Green juice: 60% of the time, it works every time.

Green juice: 60% of the time, it works every time.

When I was vegan, I started to believe that I could cure anything if I just ate well enough. 

 Kriss Carr used a plant-based diet in her battle against cancer. Dr. Esselstyn wrote about how a plant-based approach can prevent and reverse heart disease. Dr. Fuhrman suggests that you can speed up your recovery to the common cold by eating plant-based.

Every holistic person I encountered had some elaborate concoction for curing any ailment:

"Oh, are you knees hurting? You should avoid nightshade vegetables and drink cinnamon." 

"You're getting sick? Take this green drink with a ton of ginger and garlic"

It felt like information overload. It felt like I was personally responsible for anything bad that happened to my body.

The DANGER of Focusing on Weight Loss

The DANGER of Focusing on Weight Loss

You've heard from me before about the dubious links between weight loss and health. 

It's how we psychologically twist a need to be skinny or good looking into "self-care." It's also how we mix up "concern" with discrimination. But, sometimes, focusing on weight loss can be unsafe. .

The best example of this is...pregnancy. 

Honor Your Health

The 10th  and final principle of  the 10 Principles of Intuitive Eating is, "Honor Your Health---with Gentle Nutrition."

Notice that this is not the first principle. It's the last. When you've completed all 9 of the other principles, that's when you're ready to start paying attention to nutrition. 

Most people get it backwards. We focus first on what we think we should be eating or not be eating and we start down the rabbit hole. We eat our "healthy snack" at a designated snack time when we're not hungry. We wait until our designated "lunch" time to eat an totally unfulfilling vinegar salad that's burning our lips and leaving us starving. Then, we go to the bathroom to berate ourselves for getting something "calorie dense" in our salads. And suddenly, you hate the pants you bought two days ago because you look fat or something and you need to wash your hair again tonight, probably because of that "calorie dense" item in your vinegar salad. And, then maybe, you go home from work, skip your workout and eat ice cream all night, vowing to start the Paleo diet and attend two crossfit classes next week. 

But... if you've been reading this blog you know that you never have to diet again. You can eat when you're hungry, not eat when you're full. You're cool with getting "calorie dense" options in your salad and even, dare I say, creamy dressing. You've made peace with food and you don't care what the food police have to say. You stopped wearing those pants that are too small for you because you respect your body the way it is now. You had a lovely walk this morning after your chocolate croissant because it helps you manage your stress at your job which is the real reason you ate ice cream and didn't like your hair in the afternoon. You have also invested in a hair cut you like instead of crossfit classes because you realized you hated going to that anyway. 

But.. maybe this is just my story... err.. I mean my "friend's" story?

The critical switch between chronically dieting and intuitive eating is SELF LOVE. 

When you stop tuning out of your body like its the Taylor Swift song you've been listening on repeat for too long, you can start to actually take care of yourself.  And that's the coaching process for Phenomenal Jane. I'll take you on the journey from vinegar salads to the life you love. 

Because it's not about hating how you look or berating yourself for decisions you've made around food. 

It's about, well, shaking it off. 




Cookies and Prozac

I'll say it. Whoever is running the Weight Watchers ad campaign right now is hitting the nail on the head of our insecurities around food. At the end of 2014, Weight Watchers came out with this commercial.

(Surely, there are problems with the portrayal of people in this commercial but I'll let you read this article by binge eating disorder specialist, Jennie Kramer, for that).

In the commercial, to the tune of  If You're Happy and You Know it, they sing if you're sad, bored, lonely, or stressed, you might turn to food for comfort. Not only did this resonate with me because I teach kids and babies but also because it's something that comes up often in my one-on-one client sessions. In fact, it's even come up in my blog posts before.

The 7th principle of Intuitive eating is, "honor your feelings without using food." When you start to eat when you're hungry and stop when you're full, you might start to notice the times you would eat despite not being hungry.


Before you start beating yourself up over it, I want you to recognize:  

There is NOTHING wrong with you. 

In fact, there might be something deeply right. We eat to celebrate, to distract, to numb, and to comfort. (We eat for pleasure too).

For anybody who regularly craves sweets, sugar, or carbohydrates, there's actually a SCIENTIFIC reason for that.  Check out this quote from a scientific study:  

"Serotonin-releasing brain neurons are unique in that the amount of neurotransmitter they release is normally controlled by food intake: Carbohydrate consumption--acting via insulin secretion and the "plasma tryptophan ratio"--increases serotonin release....[The] tendency to use certain foods as though they were drugs is a frequent cause of weight gain, and can also be seen in patients who become fat when exposed to stress, or in women with premenstrual syndrome, or in patients with "winter depression," or in people who are attempting to give up smoking. (Nicotine, like dietary carbohydrates, increases brain serotonin secretion" (Wurtman & Wurtman, 1995).

In laymen's terms, carbohydrates make it easier to create serotonin in your brain. Serotonin makes you feel good. SSRI inhibitors, or drugs that people often take for depression, help prevent serotonin re-uptake so you have more of it. People who are experiencing stress, seasonal affective disorder, or even PMS, are likely to reach for food that helps to manage the low "feel-good" neurotransmitters in our brains.

Turns out this is also true when it comes to dopamine levels and protein.  A craving for a burger might signal an overworked nervous system or that your desk job is too damn boring. 

So, maybe if you're sad, you're using those cookies to self-medicate. 

Good for you. You're taking care of yourself. But, they may not work as well as pharmaceutical drugs and they certainly don't last as long.  Worse than that, you're treating a symptom of the problem, not the cause. 

I like to tell my own story about this for my clients:

I used to have this job that was pretty physically demanding but not very intellectually demanding. Most importantly, it felt like a dead end. I was going nowhere. I was depressed but I didn't have the insight at the time to recognize all those feelings.

After my late night shifts, I would come home and eat  A LOT of cereal.

Like, bowl after bowl of cereal until I was physically uncomfortable from my fullness. I also used to feel really guilty about every bowl and I think I got a little high from "being bad."Once I quit that job and moved on to more exciting things, a funny thing happened: I stopped eating cereal. I stopped craving cereal. I don't even like it. I almost never eat it now. 

So, here's the solution: 

We need to identify the root cause of why we're eating emotionally.

What are our emotions????

Lonely? Bored? Try hanging out with your friends or doing something exciting like skiing or snowboarding. Or ski or snowboard with your friends.

In fact, I really love this article from the Huffington Post. It has a super easy way to identify the neurotransmitter you're missing when you're feeling a certain feeling. I highly recommend going there to see what alternate activity you could engage in to re-balance your brain.  The bottom line: dopamine=bored, serotonin=sad, oxytocin=lonely, and endorphins=anxious. You get dopamine from accomplishing goals, serotonin from feeling significant, oxytocin from cuddling, and endorphins from exercise and laughing. 

I spoke to fellow health coach Kylie Reiffert, MS in nutrition and Nutrition Therapy Provider, to help me untangle some of the scientific nuances of this phenomenon with food. While she recommends some healthy protein and fat along with magnesium supplements to help curb cravings for carbs, she notes that when we take different actions, like those listed above, to manage those chemical imbalances, "the concentrations are different because it's hard to measure the serum level increases, but [it works] nonetheless."

So there you have it. You need a hug, not a Hershey's Kiss. Still, don't blame yourself for buying the chocolate. 

Happy Valentine's Day!


**If you or someone you know is struggling with mental health issues, please seek the advice of a professional. You don't have to do this by yourself.**

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