Fifteen years ago I struggled with recurring throat and lung infections. The doctors prescribed antibiotics even though I tested negative for strep every time and they could not tell me what was causing them.
(Yeah, strep throat that was NOT actually strep throat... so what the hell was it? Read on.)
So I found an MD who practiced alternative health. He gave me better solutions for dealing with the infections... but had no advice on how to prevent them.
So I found an traditional chinese medicine doctor who was an amazing overall healer... and she told me to STOP EATING SUGAR.
(But in a really nice way, because she was such a nice lady.)
And at the time that SHOCKED ME. I mean, I ate super healthy! (Except for the sugar.)
And to be honest, I did not do it. Because I was, actually, pretty addicted to sugar.
But I started working towards it. I looked at hidden sugars.
I started coming up with sugar alternatives, to do when I wanted sugar instead of sugar.
And it took a long time, and in the beginning it was a real struggle.
But slowly, with a lot of self work on what the heck that love of sugar was really about (beside the fact that dessert is delicious), I transformed that relationship with sugar to one that is really healthy.
Do I still eat sugar? Hell yes! I'd never tell anyone to stop eating anything they enjoy.
Can I get an Amen to that???
And yet, I had to shift that dynamic. It wasn't serving me and it was only creating problems with my body.
It was a substitute for certain lack I felt in my life. I had a wound that I couldn't tell you where it came from. I had a sadness that didn't really make sense considering how generally awesome my life was. I felt a loneliness in the world that couldn't be explained because I was surrounded by creative loving friends. And I turned to sugar to cheer me up.
& It was contributing to recurring INFECTIONS!
But as I slowly slowly, over the course of years, came to terms with my love of sugar and learned when I actually wanted to eat something sweet or when I just needed something to distract me or cheer me up, those infections did slowly fade away with time as well. Thankfully!
And I still get to eat sugar!
Manage specific health concerns like losing the extra weight or getting rid of the aches, pains, or even infections by upgrading your nutrition and self care.
Transform your relationship with food into a positive force in your life.
Turn your food talk into a friend and ally (instead of a judge, informant, mean girl, or police).
Whatever your personal concerns, my program is 100% customized to help you take baby steps towards the health goal you wish to achieve. I've helped women with all of the above and more. My program is not for everyone. I do not offer quick fixes. Change does not happen fast. But you can transform your health with improved nutrition, quality of food, exercise you love to do, and self care that makes you feel great EVERY day!
Because my strep throat was NOT actually strep throat. It was my body telling me to stop eating sugar.
So what could your extra few pounds or whatever concern brought you here be your body telling you?
Because eating the cookies (or hot cheetos or whatever) is NOT your fault.
Ever since my quiz told me that I could blame all my sugar binges on Junior High I've been relieved... and also thinking about Junior High!
I ran "A Team" in cross country all year long, but usually only placed like 10th or so. Then after I threw up at a cross country meet (only because I ate RIGHT before the run, which was clearly a bad idea), I ran "B Team" the next week... and got first place (it was half the distance). And EVERYBODY was giving me high five and stuff because they announced that at school... but I remember thinking it was so much easier and less an achievement than getting tenth on A Team!!! It only "sounded" better! In then end of the season I was actually highly ranked because it's all based on points, and A Team is way more points!
I also won first place in the Texas History Competition for my Spanish Aqueduct model. That was a bigger deal.
I also thought the vice principal was awesome. He eventually became principal, and later the principal of my high school (after I was gone, but I was still happy to hear it). He knew EVERY SINGLE kid's name!!!! Mr. Bannister, you rock!
Oh and I loved my science teacher, Mrs. Jobe. We licked rocks to taste them, wrote stories about the sea (mine starred Cephus the Whale), built atoms (or maybe that was solar systems? Don't recall), and much more.
Why am I writing a blog post about Junior High? I blame ALL my problems on Junior High now! And I have been thinking about it quite a lot.
I'm working on a fun project that has me exploring some kinda random subjects... such as Junior High!!!
Most of what I remember about junior high is that it was awful.
But the other day I was thinking about junior high in more depth because of this project... And one thing I very fondly remember about Junior High is all the songs I STILL know from being in choir!!
One of my very favorite songs that we sang was a musical rendition of a poem by one of my favorite poets...
i thank you god
for most this amazing day
for the leaping greenly spirits of tress
for the true blue dream of sky
and for everything which is natural
which is infinite
which is yes
i who have died am alive again today
for this is the sun's birthday
this is the birthday of life and of love and wings
and of the gay, great happening illimitably earth
how could tasting
in the know of all nothing
human merely being doubt
now the ears of my ears awake
now the eyes of my eyes are opened
But on the other end of the spectrum all the Disney songs have served me well over the years, too. Except that my family doesn't want to watch any of the 90s Disney releases with me because I can't help but sing along :p
So, anyway, Thanks, Mr. Glenn! You taught me a great repertoire!
The other day was a doozy.
My kids can be crazy. Straight up monsters. I know all kids are difficult, but when my kids BOTH get going, they get a bit extreme.
So a few days ago they were just wild in the morning. They wouldn't listen. My 4 year old freaked out when I told him to put pants on and swiped his arm across the counter, knocking all my things down... including my phone, which stopped being able to make calls after that (though I didn't realize for a few hours, just thought it was the network. In hindsight this was lucky.)
We were late, which makes me crazy. And I was PISSED.
And for whatever reason I just couldn't shake it. I tried to apologize. I explained that I was really mad. I told them I was trying to change my attitude. And that uggy feeling just wouldn't go away.
So pause for a minute. THIS IS NORMAL. It's normal my kids are goons sometimes. And it's also normal to just have really bad days when you are pissed at the world over fairly mundane things.
After I finally got both kids to school, I drove to the gym. Everything on the radio was BUGGING me. I couldn't shake it!
I had a few minutes. I called my sister. That distracted me a bit and I felt like I was finally moving on.
And then I went into my strength class, started piling up my sets of weights, bands, mat, risers... and this woman says to me, "Is this your stuff?"
"Could you move it over there?" (She points three feet away but more in center of room.)
"Uh, yeah." I respond, kinda wondering why, but not thinking too much about it.
But as I kick all my pile of gear a few feet over I think more... she has NO stuff piled up yet.
WHY THE FUCK DOESN'T SHE GO IN THE MIDDLE OF THE ROOM?????
Oh girl... when this dawned me 15 seconds later, I had dagger eyes. I had to move to the entirely other corner of the room because I could just tell I was going to PISSED!
And I was. I couldn't even LOOK at that byotch the entire class.
I was so angry. It was by most measures totally unjustified.
And yet... I don't care. I don't care I was mad at her. I'll probably hate her forever. (I mean, assuming I never actually get to know her and she remains the anonymous self absorbed person to take the last spot on the wall even when someone else is CLEARLY claiming it.)
And even lifting some hard ass weights didn't check that anger.
But guess what did! I went home and started WORKING!
Which, also, by some measures is not the healthiest choice. We shouldn't ALWAYS distract ourselves from our feelings with work. That is what workoholics do.
(Using anything to distract from our feelings can be unhelpful. This is often the challenge of ending the habit of using food to deal with our stress or emotions. We need more than one tool in the tool kit. )
But in this case, it was perfect. I already knew that my anger was not necessarily commiserate with the unfolding of the morning. And some days are just like that.
My business coach who also gives me spiritual advice is always telling me to embrace my feelings, and I did. I embraced. I allowed. Then I worked my booty off to move on!!
And I blame that woman for ruining my morning.
I've been thinking about the fact that my signature program with my clients is called "Love Every Bite" and yet I have never really told you what kind of bites that I LOVE!
Now, when the Kitchen Witch comes out you'll find out a lot more about that, since there is a whole section of sort-of recipes :)
But in the mean time I thought I'd share my all time favorite cookbooks and why I love them so much!!!
First, though, a caveat. Several of these cookbooks are vegetarian, but I thought you should know... I'm not actually vegetarian. I was vegetarian for many years, so partly I have cookbooks from that time period, but the truth is that I like to eat mostly vegetarian at home, and when I do add meat, it's usually salmon that I cook in a pan or tuna our of a can.
This is because I'm used to cooking vegetarian, my husband eats fish but not meat, and I'm super weird about germs from fish and meat in my kitchen. Also, it's always easy to ADD a bit of meat to a dish, if that is your preference.
So, without further ado...
My favorite cookbook at the moment is a new addition to my shelf...
However, I also almost never follow a recipe, and with 4 versions of the same recipe it is very easy to mash them up and make my own unique version, and still have it turn out great!!
Also, the recipes so far have been easy to follow, not too time consuming or complicated, delicious and nutritious!!!
Another fairly new addition to my cookbook collection is...
It really makes on the fly cooking way less stressful.
Also, I know that the recipes will be easy to shop for - I won't have to hunt around wondering if the store carries certain ingredients.
This is really a great solution for a busy person like me (or you) to have on hand. The recipes are pretty no nonsense, a great selection of sandwiches, some casseroles, lots of quick things. It's not a dinner party kind of cookbook, but it is amazing at weeknight dinners, fast lunches, and making the empty pantry seem not that empty!
Now to some of my old standbys that have bee used and loved for many years.
This is my go to book for dinner parties!!! The recipes are not hard to make, but they are delicious and turn out well every time. That is a rare combination!!!
One of the show stoppers was the vegetable, feta, and pesto parcels...delicious vegetables packed into filo pastry. (I didn't exactly follow the recipe of course... but they were delicious none the less!)
This cookbook is truly international in its dishes, but it does them well. The meals are light, flavorful, and present well on the table. A mainstay in my kitchen!!!
My favorite book for fast weeknight dinners...
Plus... you can always grate some cheese on top if it would improve the meal ;)
Vegan Express was a passed on cookbook fro ma friend who ended up with two copies, and I'm SO grateful! Both to her aunt for giving her the same book twice, and to her for passing it on to me!
You'll notice a theme here: The recipes here come together quickly, are fresh and flavorful. The contents are organized by major ingredient just as much as type of food: protein (tofu, tempeh, seitan), grains, beans, noodles, pizza/quesadillas/wraps, salads, soups, sauces, and sweets. The way she breaks this down and clusters the recipes also makes it easy when you haven't been to the store to find something yummy to cook in a pinch.
The pizzas/quesadillas/wraps section is particularly helpful, since she explains that these methods are interchangeable, so you can use the toppings/filling from one recipe with a different kind of bread to hold it, if that's what you prefer (or have on hand).
She also includes a "recipe not required" section and just gives a whole bunch more ideas!! Now that is what I call inspiration!
The last cookbook is also one I go to for inspiration just as much as actual recipes...
For example, The Sneaky Chef hides a bunch of zucchini and cauliflower in her mac and cheese. So if I'm making mac and cheese, I'll go look up her recipe and figure out if I can either quickly grate some extra veggies in or use some puree. Since I don't tend to follow recipes anyway, I might not use cauliflower, but opt for some cooked butternut squash or whatever I have on hand. The idea is to get inspiration.
Well, that's the review of the most used cookbooks in my kitchen in the past few years. I'd love to know what you think or what YOUR favorite cookbooks are!!!!
Alegra Loewenstein & www.healthyfamilyharmony.com is a participant in the Amazon Services LLC Associates Program, an affiliate advertising program designed to provide a means for sites to earn advertising fees by advertising and linking to amazon.com. Clicking these or any other links to amazon from my site provides me with income so I can continue to create free and fun content on my site!
I want to challenge something right now.
It might be uncomfortable. I want to challenge the idea that portion control is a healthy way to eat.
Because I understand, as a total control freak my self, the temptation to try to control what I eat.
(The funny thing is that I used to consider my self "Type B." I actually thought I was super laid back, didn't worry too much about things, could go with the flow.
However, having children made me realize that I'm actually extremely controlling! It's just that before kids I was successfully controlling most of my world... and then I had kids and have been basically white-knuckling the edge of the table since they were born, staring in amazement because my mind is blown that I am so unable to control things now.
Sooooo.... it was more like I could be all relaxed and "Type B" because I was so damn good at being Type A that I didn't even know it!)
Also, I used to try to control what I ate. And, interestingly, for a long time that was also out of my control. And it was a real challenge in my life.
The things in my life that felt shitty (in hindsight, basically all the things I could not control), made me want to eat sugar.
I'd try to NOT eat sugar, fail, and then just eat more sugar.
And in my business now I connect with many women who share that they feel that way about many other types of food as well, sometimes all food.
Sometimes they find that portion control has helped them maintain a healthy weight.
However, there are two ways to go about portion control.
The first way, the more common way, is that some external measurement determines the portion. Whether calories, volume/weight, carbs, points, or whatever, this can backfire. It's useful to learn what an average portion might be. But if you are hungry, you may need more than average, and if you are not hungry, you may need less than average.
The second, more empowering, way is to trust your body as the guide. When your body is telling you what the portion should be, it will be just the right amount. And the beautiful thing is that when your body is able to get exactly what it needs to be satisfied, you are able to ENJOY the portions, not simply control them.
It is my mission to help women create this holistic whole body connection in a playful, non-judgmental, and supportive environment, so they can enjoy all the foods they love.
I know a lot of people have been buying my book lately - I have been ranked as a #1 Amazon bestseller!!!
Unfortunately, I'm sorry to say that I did not do a very good job letting people know about the amazing and FREE videos that go hand in hand with the journal!!!
So I'm saying it now...
1. Buy the book!
2. Sign up for the videos!
The truth is... I actually created the book and videos originally to be an online course. But when I went to upload them and start promoting the course... I realized the platform I was trying to use would not accept the videos because they were not high enough resolution!!
But instead of giving up (or worse - re-doing them all), I decided I'd just GIVE them away to support the book!! YEEEESSSSS!!!!!
Listen. Here's the deal. I STRUGGLED with this question for YEARS.
Here are some quotes from old journals:
The list goes on and one. Over a period of years I would write this stuff on a regular basis. Interspersed with other things like...
And for the most part I didn't know WHY I couldn't stop. I didn't understand WHY when I resolved to do things, when I TRIED to quite eating sugar, I failed.
I was smart. I was independent. I had a great life.
And yet... I could. not. stop. eating. sugar.
But then there were glimpses into understanding why I could not stop eating sugar, that I just didn't go deep enough with because I didn't understand they were related.
"I had a cry-fest-pity-party tonight. Then I drove to New Braunfels and back. Then I bought soda, candy, and cigarettes on my mom's gas card. I'm sad & lonely & tired of meaningless relationships & sick of love story fairy tales. I want to sleep until it's warm outside. I want peace in my home. I want someone to cuddle with at night. I want to fuck. I want to cry. I want ____."
It is exactly that desire, that looking for a fairy tale - because it was MY OWN fairy tales I was sick of, that desire to connect in an emotional and physical way that I was stuffing myself with sugar to numb myself from.
I was the one thinking that a relationship would be some kind of fairy tale. I was so deeply duped by the silly stories in our society, and yet simultaneously unwilling to accept them. No wonder I was frustrated in so many ways.
And, after lots of self work and reflection, I can say that the longer quote, where I talk about bigger picture things, is the GOLD NUGGET (and, ugh, I feel dirty that I used my mom's gas card - I almost wanted to edit it out, but decided to leave it in, and then, kind of laughingly, why is THAT the part that still creeps me out?)
Because it is EXACTLY that bigger picture that was the reason behind the sugar binges!! They did not feel related at all back then. I had no idea. I was also in denial when my doctor of Chinese medicine suggested as such. First I denied I had a problem with sugar (despite the fact that I was writing about sugar incessantly in my journals). Then I told her I didn't care - I didn't WANT to stop eating sugar. But luckily she gently persisted with the message and I eventually acknowledged this as truth.
And yet... as amazing as she was as a healer, she only pointed me in the right direction with the sugar-desire connection. I still had to fumble my way through figuring it out, which I eventually did. And I did this so successfully that it feels like a different me back then.
I can also say that I truly have to go to my journals to remember that self hate, that body hate, that shame and feeling like a failure.
(That's not to say I'm in some perfect life now - we never are, but I am much better at recognizing my own bullshit stories and stopping myself mid-thought to reset. Focusing on my wrinkles, my post-children jiggly bits, etc etc... well it happens, but I know it's a load of shit even though I still feel it, and so I just try to honor the feeling while I recognize that it is coming from a bullshit story.)
Plus my journals NOW are so full of positive affirmations you'd really not recognize the author!!!
So... if you are wondering why you can't stop eating sugar... then ask yourself what your deeper desires are. Or, better yet, buy my journal and answer the questions to help guide you to that answer!
I'm so excited to have my book be featured in some Holiday Gift Guides this year!!!
Last year I attended the San Diego Mompreneurs Sip & Shop event and had a great time. I bought some fun acupressure crystals to put on acupressure points on my ears. The practice of placing them and massaging them was very grounding, and they looked fabulous, too!!! I also found these cool little boxes with sticky insides for holding itty bitty things - it sounds weird, but I bought one to hold my beads for making jewelry and I gave one to my husband for holding little nuts and bolts and screws and stuff for his garage projects.
I had such a good time, and because my book was just released, I decided to sign up as vendor this year! I was a little worried my books would not come in time because the delivery date was only the day before... but bless the publisher (CreateSpace), they came WAY early and I've had to house that box of books in my living room leading up to the event!!!
So I'll be there with my books in person this year!! TOMORROW December 7, 2017.
I've also been featured in this online gift guide!