But I don't want to cook!
Fast food is DESIGNED to make you want it, and to make you eat as much as possible. It is literally engineered to be that way. Sometimes getting info about that can help you want to stand up to that kind of deception and manipulation. Movies/Books like Fast Food Nation, Super Size Me, The End of Overeating, etc.
Also, learning about how bad that food is over time may help you decide you don't want to eat it.
However, you also MUST address the emotional/lifestyle trigger behind the desire/craving.
You don't feel like cooking... that is FINE! That is totally legitimate! There are many days when you may not feel like cooking. Cooking can be a joy...and cooking can be a total slog.
I used to be a sugar addict (also very addicting), and now I am passionate about helping people create their ideal relationship with food. I ALWAYS suggest spending some time to understand what is driving that craving. Yes, with fast food some of it is physical/biological...but there is also a lifestyle/emotion to it. In the case of fast food avoiding the work of cooking and the clean up after is a big part of it.
I focus on five steps:
1. Count the Joy - learn to celebrate food
2. Love Every Bite - you should eat foods you enjoy
3. Have Your Cake - include treats and foods you love
4. Eat Healthy Without Trying - this takes time, but you can train yourself to truly honestly prefer healthy foods!
5. Have a Plan - don't get caught too hungry or too busy
I wanted to explain all the steps because a lot of the understanding work comes first, you have to know where all your triggers are coming from before the changes will last.
And at the same you can start with some of the changes -- what usually comes at the end-- while you spend the time laying the emotional foundation.
In THIS case, how can you have a plan?
1. Keep food in your freezer or pantry that is better than fast food... look for frozen meals with no weird ingredients. Be it pizza or noodles whatever super easy item you prefer, take some time to stock a few "emergency rations".
2. Keep your fruit bowl full. Add fruit to any meal to round it out. Noodles again? Add some orange slices on the side to freshen it and lighten it. Feels like a fancy restaurant, too
3. Use paper plates. Sure, it makes waste...but so does fast food, so indulge at home once in a while, too.
Eat your Veggies!
The secret to simple healthy food is this: grains and veggies.
I explained a bit about grains one week ago. Today, let's chat vegetables.
If you really don't know how to make sure you make this happen, then grab yourself a coffee chat with me so we can chat and I can tell you about the ways I can help you commit to it. I have SEVERAL ways! I can teach you to Eat Twice as Healthy in Half the Time. I can schedule you a Pantry Makeover. I can help you go deep in Love Every Bite.
Let me share with you how I tout the advantages of vegetables in my forth coming book:
Adding a salad or steamed vegetables to a meal is quick and easy way to round the meal out. Cooking soup is an easy way to create a meal featuring the bounty of the farmer’s market. Vegetables should be plenty and abundant in your diet. They are filling and delicious; they are high in fiber and low in fat; most are low in sugar; they are full of vitamins, minerals, and antioxidants.
They really add so much to a diet and you can eat so much without ever worrying about whether or not they are healthy. Vegetables are the one part of any diet that you never have to measure, weigh, or be concerned about over eating.
And I didn't even go into the health benefits! Vegetables are the staple of most healthy "diets." Anytime or place in the history of the world, they ate vegetables. Except, of course, for modern day industrialized nations. Like ours. Where we suffer from a disastrous array of preventable health ailments... Ahem. Alright, so how can eat more of them??? Just like grains. We have to commit. We have to change our mindset from "it's too hard" to "hell yeah I wanna live forever!"
(You know, not really. But I do wanna feel great and look my best and be as healthy as I can as long as I can!!! And veggies help with all of that!!!)
Okay, Alegra. HOW????
Well, if you are familiar with "Eat Twice as Healthy in Half the Time" - the first step is chop veggies. It's really three steps: Buy them and chop them and use them. Still. I know you can do that.
So go ahead and hop back on Pinterest and find one recipe with veggies. Easy! And then chop TWICE as many veggies as what it calls for, and use up the leftovers in an other meal the next day!! You've just doubled your veggies consumption.
I told you last time I've dusted off my old manuscript for my book, The Kitchen Witch, and I'm working through it, finding typos, and getting ready to publish it!
I am having SO MUCH FUN reading through my old wisdom, and following the advice I gave myself ten+ years ago. What a gift!
Of course, it's not really dusty, because it's on a my computer, and the advice won't really make you live forever, because that's impossible plus - who would want to?
But it is excellent advice none the less, and advice which I see I have lost touch of with adulting and parenting... but advice which I am ardently working to bring back into my life! I hope you can, too!
Check out these three basic premises (premi?). Check out this simple concepts that inspire the book!
What’s good for the inside is good for the outside. That’s one of the mottos of this book, and what you’ll be learning about when you read this book or use it a reference. The book is organized categorically, but the extensive index will help you locate suggestions for specific issues or ailments, such as facial treatments or acne, or by ingredients that you happen to have on hand, like sesame oil, bell peppers, or rose flower water.
What’s good for the outside is good for the inside. That means an approach to health that will help keep you happy and healthy from inside to outside and from outside to inside. You can’t create beauty superficially – beauty arises from deep inside of each of us. It’s when this beauty is blocked from surfacing that we don’t feel our best, and from there we can’t look our best.
Treat yourself well, and the world will follow. So, how can we take care of our bodies and souls everyday so that we feel good and look good? It’s by treating ourselves to the best things in life, which happen to be things we have access to everyday: good food, good company, and good intention.
Let's be honest. It's actually really hard to take good care of ourselves. Society, sadly, thinks it's great to run around, brag about how you haven't even eaten breakfast (and it's 2pm), complain about lack of sleep, etc etc etc. But that is called: On your way to adrenal fatigue / We don't take care of ourselves in 'merica.
So, let's pledge together, that we will put ourselves first. We will take deep care of our bodies and souls. We will make choices that are good for our insides AND outsides.
In fact, I'm going to eat some healthy snacks AND get a massage this week.
sugar vs emotional eating
What does sugar have to do with emotional eating?
Well, a lot actually. While sugar is not the only thing you can eat emotionally - you could crave spaghetti, potatoes, ketchup, sweet tea, chips and salsa, or any number of things - sugar is by far the most common craving triggered by emotional eating.
Sugar is sweet, and we are trained to like sweet from birth. We are born that way. Breastmilk is sweet. We cry. We get this thing that tastes good and makes us feel good. Nursing and eating also make us (the baby version of us) feel safe and happy.
From there... the list is long. But imagine...birthday parties. Straight As or any other celebration. Family gatherings. Friday night. Summer time ice cream. Holiday treats. All these things also associate food with safety, joy, happiness... So it's actually really natural that sugar makes us feel good.
However, when we get overly busy and food or sugar becomes the only tool we have to feel better, then it becomes an issue. Also, because we have os many hidden sugars in our modern world, and because we have so many sweets and treats to readily accessible, we really can have too much of a good thing.
The trick is not to stop eating sweets or foods we like, but to tune in to our bodies and ask our bodies when it really wants that sweet, and if it really wants the second serving. It can take practice, but our bodies don't lie, our bodies tell us the truth and will teach us how to eat just the right amount of all the delicious things we are surrounded by!
Do you know to listen to your body? Do you let your body guide your food choices?
If you know you need help in this category, get a copy of Body Wisdom Journal!
why you keep eating the sugar
I can totally relate to feeling out of control with your food and unable to stop eating sugar. I used to have that same struggle, and would eat sugar throughout the day. I would binge on sugar, beat myself up over it, swear to give it up forever...and do it all again the next day.
This is now my area of expertise and something I am passionate about helping women overcome. I have a few very important questions you can ask yourself to help you get a handle on this issue.
1. Are you eating enough?
When we under eat, our bodies DEMAND food. And guess what, when our bodies demand it, we go for whatever is fastest, easiest, most delicious. This often means sugar, fat, and salt. So make sure you are eating a wholesome satisfying breakfast AND lunch to get you through the day.
2. Are you eating the right things?
That means including carbs, fats, and proteins, and lots of fruits and veggies. Oh, and it should be something you ENJOY. IT is essential that we are nourishing ourselves, not just getting basic nutrients. If we are depriving ourselves of enjoyment in our daily meals we will often seek it later in the day in the form of junk and treats.
3. Do you know your triggers?
People can be triggered by many different things. Over hunger, as I described above. Sight and smell, so you can avoid, say, pastry shops with large windows if this applies to you. Also learn your emotional triggers. Stress, bad relationships, lack of a relationship, boredom, avoiding unpleasant tasks, and many other things that fall somewhere on the "emotional" spectrum can drives us to want to eat. These can also be overcome with practice.
Breaking the rules - taking a trip
Are you ready to say goodbye to…
- junk food
- ice cream
I admire if ANY of these or on your to do list, and I want to help you make sure you don’t fall into the trap of ending up back in your old habits!
Do you have a plan and system to make sure you can sustain those changes? Sometimes a huge lifestyle change works, but often it can feel overwhelming.
Because if you have a long list of “give up” foods it may mean you have been eating more of them than you'd like. And perhaps you’ve been doing this longer than you’d like as well.
And it’s all too common to give them up… keep it up for while…then fall back into old habits.
Which is frustrating, even depressing.
I'd suggest taking some time to look at how each of these habits will be worked in. A few ways to consider this:
1. Do you have a time each day blocked off to make sure you are preparing healthy food?
2. Are you going to meal plan and/or prep to have healthy foods readily available to yourself?
3. Also, perhaps most importantly, have you asked yourself how your habits got out of alignment with your values? Did you get stressed? Did you get busy? Did you get bored? Did you get lazy? Was it the way you always ate and you are ready to change it? This is an essential step I see people overlooking, but it really helps you move forward without falling back into old habits!
I love to collect fun little treats for the boys' easter baskets, some wind up animals, pinwheels, always books (yes we are nerds), and a few little treats. Enough for ONE day.
We also like to have brunch either on our own, or with friends or family.
I love to make Quiche. It is easy, I always have the ingredients, and you can throw anything in.
Buy a pie crust. It's true they are simple to make, but it's much faster to buy one, and you and I are both busy. Just make sure it doesn't have a bunch of weird crap in it. I like to keep Trader Joe's Pie Crusts on hand for quiche or pot pie. (Oh and when I DO make a crust, I double the recipe and freeze one of my own!!!!)
Double the recipe and you will have breakfast or lunch for the week!
Do you do meal planning? Have you tried but found it overwhelming?
Go to bed!
Late night is THE MOST COMMON time I see people - women and men - turning to sugar (and other junk foods, but mostly sugar).
I used to have a sugar addiction that led to acute but severe health issues, and I still love sweets. The difference now is I understand my triggers and know what I need to do to have a healthy relationship with sugar.
And guess what, I find myself thinking I want sweets late at night as well.
Why is that?
The end of the day...
you are tired...
you are exhausted...
you've had it up to here with your boss/your drama friend/your kids/your whatever...
you are tired...
you finally got all your crap done for the day and have time to think about running into your ex/the worries of your family/the work that didn't get done...
you are tired...
you did not get a chance to relax all day and now you really want to enjoy yourself...
you are tired...
you still have so much left to do...
something on the computer...
get ready for tomorrow...
you are tired!!!!
Okay so the BIGGEST factor here is that you are TIRED!!!
It sounds SO SIMPLE, and yet it is not.
Because our society does not value rest and relaxation and our society makes "busy-ness" seem like an essential part of our lives.
But I'm telling you right now... busy-ness = stress and stress drives us to make bad choices because of the hormonal/chemical affects on our brain.
So, if you want to stop late night sugar binges, plan your entire day around getting yourself into bed earlier.
Meal prep your lunches, leave the dishes in the sink (or hire a house cleaner), shut the TV off at night, or whatever you have to do.
Past a sign up in the cabinet/fridge where the sweets are that says "GO TO BED." And read it anytime you go for the sugar after 7-8pm.
Let me know how it goes!!!!!
do you count calories?
"Friday morning I weighed in at 177 and over the weekend I only walked maybe 4-5 miles total (not exercising just out and about) and I wasn't dieting. I ate what I wanted and this morning I stepped on the scale expecting to see 180 but shocked it said 176! Yes I should be happy but something's off here and I gotta figure out how.”
Does this sound familiar? I can tell you when my clients first come to me (the ones that are coming to me for weight loss), this is what they worry about. They worry about a few pounds up or down.
The truth is, anything under 5 pounds is irrelevant.
I don't say that to diminish losing 5 pounds, I say that keep expectations realistic... 5 pounds weight loss does not mean the same thing as the scale measured 5 pounds different in a week.
Your weight fluctuates several pounds in a day. Water intake, how big of a poop you took, and other basic functions can be measured in a day.
Personally... I think the scale is deceptive. You will know if you are losing weight or not. You will know based first on how you feel and later how you look.
I encourage all my clients to get rid of their scales! Literally, gone & out of the house! It's a big mentality shift, but can be extremely freeing.
But then, I also discourage counting of calories/macros/anything else, and focusing on quality and how your body feels as the guide.
When I was in the peak of my sugar addiction, I had extra weight. The few attempts I made to count sugar grams or calories were not long lived. It’s not something I could ever do, personally.
That being said, the weight, while disconcerting (especially when others commented on it, as many did), was not my primary reason for changing my habits. I had acute but recurring throat infections that drove that change.
However I do understand the attraction to counting, and I did attempt it, especially with grams of sugar… it feels like something you can control.
When you can’t even control the sugar that you eat, you can count it. But ultimately, it does not usually last as a means to limiting the amount of food or sugar that you eat. In my experience, it is simply a distraction from whatever the real problem is. In my case, it was the emotions behind the sugar binging. In almost all my clients' lives, it is either an emotion, a habit, or pattern.
(There ARE people who simply need nutrition education, but those are not the people I meet. If this is you or someone you know, counting can be a means to learn appropriate portions. However, if you don't move to a whole foods based diet, counting remains just a distraction.)
Getting rid of your scale and giving up counting calories is not the mainstream approach, but it is an approach that most people can really live with forever.
One day, even a whole weekend, will not actually affect your weight. It is what you do 90% of the time that creates your body.
Stay focused on the long game! Stay focused on the quality of your diet, identifying the patterns that are not serving you, and you can let go of counting.
Sound scary? Want to know more about how it can work for you?