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Relationship (with food) Status: It's Complicated

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Relationship (with food) Status: It's Complicated

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How would you describe your relationship with food? Complicated?
I don’t like to generalize, but I think most of us have an at least somewhat complicated relationship with food.
What do I mean by complicated? Let me explain.
Let’s start by asking what food is meant to be for us?
The answer is nourishment for our body. That is food’s role, to deliver the nutrition that our body needs for growth & health. I also believe that we should enjoy the food that is nourishing our body, but the bottom line is that is that nourishment is the key role for food. That part is simple right?
Here’s where the complicated part comes in. Many of us eat food for many other reasons, and to try to nourish many things other than our body. Think about it. The last time you had a rough day and ate a pint of ice cream, were you thinking about nourishing your body or where you trying to nourish your emotions?
Our relationship with food is multifaceted. I think most of us eat for reasons other than nourishing our bodies. Emotional eating, sugar addictions, and junk food addictions are all part of our complicated relationship with food, and a very big subject I could never cover in one blog post.
My intention in writing this today is to get you thinking about the subject, and to talk about one small facet of this complicated relationship. What I’d like to focus in on today is how habitual it is for most of us to ‘reward’ ourselves with food that’s not good for our body.
This is a backwards concept, and one that many of us learned as kids.
Do any of the following sound familiar?

"Finish your homework then you can have a cookie."

"Behave in the store, and you can get some candy."

"Be good in your appointment today, and we’ll go get fast food."

"If your team wins the tournament,  we’ll have a pizza party."

I could go on and on.
 How does this translate into adulthood?

"I worked an extra long day, so I’m going to treat myself to ordering pizza tonight, sitting on the couch and eating it all."

"I’ve had a rough, emotional day, and I totally deserve a brownie sunday."

"I’ve been so good with eating healthy this week,  so I’m going to go to the bakery for pastries after my morning walk."

"I’ve gotten so many errands done today and haven’t eaten yet, so I’m treating myself to fast food."

"Congrats, You’ve been with the company for a year. To celebrate, we brought donuts."

Maybe these examples don’t sound exactly like you, but you get the picture.
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Many of us have been trained to reward ourselves with food that isn’t good for us, and generally doesn't make us feel good. Really, When's the last time you rewarded yourself with broccoli?  Besides many growing up with this influence, think about the food marketing that you take in. How many commercials for junk food send a message that sounds similar to this….."go ahead! You are worth it! You deserve it! You can find decadence & happiness in food!"
Now don’t get me wrong, I am not a purist about this by any means. I’m fully guilty of indulging myself with wine & desserts, and I’m aware that for me,  totally denying myself of these things is usually not a good idea. I personally tend to do better with a little balance of ‘naughty’ in my diet every now & then. However, when I indulge, I try to just call it what it is: Indulging. I try not to consider these things rewards for good behavior on my part because it simply doesn't make sense to 'reward' my body with something not very good for it. My point in this writing is to bring awareness to this  complicated part of our relationship with food, so that we can work on it.
Do you ‘treat’ or ‘reward’ yourself with food that isn’t nourishing for your body?
When do you tend to do this? How often? How do you feel after?
Now that we’ve brought awareness to it, what can you do about it? How can you work towards a healthier relationship with food?
Here's what I would suggest:
First, pinpoint the times that you really tend to reward yourself with food. What comes up for you? Is it after you’ve been eating healthy, or after stressful days, or after workouts?
Now that you’ve got some of those times in mind, ask yourself what else you could reward yourself with that doesn't involve unhealthy food? Perhaps at the end of an extra long day you could treat yourself by stopping to get a massage on the way home, or taking the time for a walk around the lake. Perhaps after eating really healthy all week, you could treat yourself to a new summer dress, or stop by the bookstore and get yourself that new book you’ve been wanting. Maybe after sticking to your exercise routine all week you can treat yourself to a relaxing afternoon on the couch watching movies, a night out with your girlfriends, or a pedicure appointment. Sometimes a great reward is just allowing ourselves some quiet down time in our busy schedule doing something we love.
There are a lot of other things in life that we can ‘treat’ ourselves to or ‘reward’ ourselves with, it's just that we’ve been programmed through life experience and marketing that a good reward for ourselves is decadent food, that's not beneficial for our body. This is a really backwards way of thinking about rewards, isn't it?
The good news is, new habits around this are possible to form, and being aware of where to make changes is the first step.
If you are someone that rewards yourself with sweets or junk food,  how can you work to transform this habit? What are other things you can begin to reward yourself with?
I'm not suggesting that you never treat yourself to food that you love and feel indulgent. I'm suggesting that we start fixing our relationship with food by tackling this complicated facet of it. Let's start thinking of food as nourishment, rather than something we treat ourselves with for emotional reasons. And let's start rewarding ourselves with things that are actually a reward to our body, mind, or spirit.
Our relationship with food is very much complex, and for many it can be very much a struggle. Remember that sustainable change is created through baby steps. Trying to change everything overnight generally ends up in failure and disappointment. Focusing on making one small change at a time is how we create new habits that stick around and that serve our body & mind in a healthy way.
If you’d like to work on your relationship with food towards a less complicated, healthier status, I invite you to work with this one small change and see what a big difference it can make for you.
Wishing you wellness!
Shelly

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Are You Eating Your Greens?

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Are You Eating Your Greens?

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Green food. It’s definitely put up there on a pedestal as far as food goes. Getting dark leafy greens in your diet daily is so very good for you in so many ways! They are put on a pedestal for a reason. They play a crucial role in our health!

Are you eating enough greens? Are you eating some green food daily? If you are like most americans, your diet could be lacking in this area, so I’m here today to give you a pep talk about it!

Why eat dark leafy greens?

Dark leafy greens help to strengthen your immune system, they can improve circulation, lower your cholesterol, they clean your blood, they help your body detox through supporting improved liver, gall bladder, & kidney functions, they are known to promote healthy intestinal flora, and can even help prevent cancer.

They are rich in chlorophyll which alkalinizes the blood. A lot of disease and health issues are related to inflammation in the body, so this is a really important aspect of their benefits.

They are rich sources of Vitamins A, C, E, & K. They are an abundance source of phytochemicals, and provide you with great fiber as well. Fiber = a happy colon :)

Examples of dark leafy green vegetables to consider are kale, bok choy, collard greens, mustard greens, arugula, spinach, romaine, dandelion greens, broccoli, broccoli rabe, watercress, endive, cabbage, brussel sprouts, turnip greens, and swiss chard.

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How to eat dark leafy greens?

I think that like most things in life we tend to get into habits or routines, and the food we eat is not exception. I encourage you to try new things & mix it up a bit! If you try 1 new green, or one new way of eating greens per week, in a few months, you’ll have 12 news ways to eat greens in your repertoire! Sure, you maybe won’t like some as much, but hang onto the ones that you love and keep experimenting.

If you are not used to eating a lot of greens, adding them into your diet daily can make significant changes for you. Because they are nutritional powerhouses, you get a lot of energy from eating them. You may notice more sustained energy if you have a hearty smoothy in the morning loaded with greens vs the morning muffin that will send your energy crashing soon after you eat it.

You may have improved digestion and elimination from the added fiber in your diet. Some people even experience weight loss simply from adding greens in daily.  If you are adding a serving or two of greens per day, you are most likely crowding something less nutritious out of your diet!

So here is my challenge to you: If you think you could stand to add more greens into your diet, pick one new dark leafy green to you, or one new way of preparing greens per week. Keep this up for a few months, and I guarantee you will end up in the habit of eating more, and you’ll have more ways that you enjoy them. Enjoying them is really the ticket in. Find the ways you like to eat them, and know that the more you eat, the better they will taste to you! Before you know it, you’ll be eating greens every day! Even craving them! 

How I eat my greens changes over time as I like to experiment a lot in the kitchen, but I’d like to share with you my current top 5 favorite ways to eat greens. I make sure that they are in my diet in some way daily! If you scroll to the bottom, you'll find my current favorites. 

I hope this inspires you to get your greens in! Remember that good habits take time to form. Baby steps towards eating healthier is far more sustainable than trying to change it all overnight. Be gentle with yourself, and celebrate the small changes that you make!

I’d love to hear from you about your favorite ways to get dark leafy greens in your diet. Please feel free to share in the comments!

Wishing you wellness,

Shelly

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 My top 5 favorite ways to eat my greens:

#1 - Greens & eggs! Sauté onions, garlic, & greens in olive oil on medium heat.  When they are ready, push them to one side of the pan then add beaten eggs to the pan, scramble with some pink salt & pepper. when the eggs are about done, I mix it all together. Delish! And not just good for breakfast. I’ll eat this for lunch or dinner too :)

*Any greens work, although I’m not fond of cabbage with eggs.

*I LOVE using my cast iron skillet for this. 

* If using broccoli or brussel sprouts start them with the onions & garlic. If you are using heartier green like kale add it in when the onions & garlic are cooked about 1/2 way. For softer greens like spinach, I cook the onion & garlic first and I give the spinach no more than a minute in the skillet before pushing aside and pouring the eggs. 

*To take this to the next level, I’ll top the scramble with avocado chunks, fresh basil, & crumbled goat cheese (my current fav) or salsa & avocado.

 

#2 Steamed Chard with toasted sesame oil, raw cashews, and pink salt.

Remove the stems & chop or tear chard into large pieces. Steam for about 3-4 minutes. Remove with tongs to a large bowl. Drizzle toasted sesame oil (to taste) a bit at a time and toss. Pinch in pink salt (to taste). When sesame oil and salt are to taste, plate up and top with chopped raw cashews. 

*This is SUCH a favorite of mine. I sometimes crave this and will eat a really large pile for dinner with a good piece of sprouted grain toast.

*Sesame oil is a source of good fats, similar to olive oil.

*Sesame seeds, sunflower seeds, and toasted almond slivers also work great to top them!

*Gomasio is a great addition to this as well, and would replace the pink salt. 

 

#3 Smoothies. My smoothies are almost always different, but they almost always have greens of some kind in. There is a plethora of recipes out there. I always suggest experimenting with things you love. And always add some greens 😃 I also add extra greens into my smoothies via spirulina powder, and various other green powders. My basic smoothie often contains 1/2 banana, apple, berries, almond or hemp milk & greens. 

 

#4 Stirfrys, Curries, and Soups. Whenever you are making any variations of these dishes, be sure to add some greens in! ANY Stir fry, curry, or soup can only benefit from adding some dark leafy green, not just in nutrition & health benefits, but taste as well! Try not to get hung up on how you’ve always cooked something. Add kale to a simple thai curry, or a big handful of spinach into some soup the last minute it’s on the stove, right before it’s served so that it just gently wilts and tastes so fresh & delicious! 

 

#5 Salads! Of course, but I had to mention it. The possibilities are endless. If you feel bored with salad, I recommend looking up some new recipes! Make something totally out of your ordinary to mix it up a bit! The combinations and flavors are literally endless. 

 

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