Help Me Stop!!

Do you find yourself saying – screaming?! – these words (silently, or maybe not so silently) to yourself?  Want to change a habit?  I do.

Most of the habits I hear about people wanting to change are related to eating.  “I need to (want to, have to, DEFINITELY should, etc.) stop . . . . (eating after dinner, eating while watching TV, eating cookies, eating chocolate, . . . . )  Sound familiar?  Although I am not currently having trouble with food cravings, there have definitely been times in my life when I have, and I understand it.

My problem?  I have been having trouble shutting off my brain at night when it’s time to go to sleep.  I know at least part of the problem is the stimulation of tech devices (computer and phone).  I sit down to dinner, hear that little “ping” from my phone and make a note to check e-mail after I eat.  I start reading a book and think, “I should really send just one more e-mail to . . . ”  The list of distractions and “could do” list just gets longer.

So . . . I have decided to shut off my phone and cover my computer after 6pm.  So far it’s working.  I did go to the computer once or twice (“I’ll just check the weather”), forgetting my promise to myself, but the fleece jacket over my computer stopped me in my tracks – an effective reminder!

I recommend similar reminders for eating triggers.  A fleece jacket (or a sticky note) on the TV would remind TV munchers to consider their choices instead of mindlessly grabbing the bag of chips.  Whatever works to get a new habit going!  It does take some time to form new ones.  When starting the process, an obvious reminder of the commitment helps, simply because the brain is not yet considering options to the usual mindless routine.  That’s what makes habits hard to break – they are mindless.

If you have creative reminders of your own, please share them.  I would love to hear what works for you!

How My Computer Looks After 6pm

How My Computer Looks After 6pm

Looking for a tasty, quick breakfast?

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What to eat. . . what to eat . . . hmmm . . . .

Yes, I ask this question too!

This morning I needed to get going quickly but I also needed a decent breakfast that would last me about 4 hours.  I came up with this beautiful and delicious combo full of protein, healthy fat, and vegetables.

I boiled a couple of eggs for 7 minutes (nice and gooey inside!) and settled them on a nest of leftover roasted vegetables – another reason to keep some roasted veggies on hand.  Mine included red peppers, purple onion, carrots, eggplant, mushrooms, and cauliflower.

A little salt and pepper on top, and this really did the trick:  satisfied my hunger and got some vegetables in the tank early in the day.  If I had been heading for a tough workout, I may have added a piece of fruit for extra fuel, but this was fine for today.

If you’ve never roasted vegetables, I assure you that you can do it!  Anyone can do it.

Kim’s Roasted Vegetables

Put roughly chopped vegetables into a roasting pan and drizzle with olive oil. Add salt and pepper to taste. Cook in a 400 degree oven for about ½ hour (time depends on the type of vegetables used). Toss once or twice during the cooking time. Here are some of my favorite combos:

Eggplant chunks, purple onion, carrots, zucchini, and mushrooms – sometimes I drizzle a little aged balsamic vinegar at the end.

Parsnips, carrots, and purple onion – a nice winter medley

Brussels sprouts and . . . more Brussels sprouts – I love them all by themselves; they get a little crispy – mmm!

 

Think you are destined to live out a set genetic destiny? Think again.

I am a big believer in the power of our thoughts – and the actions they create – to either make us healthier or sicker.  The environment is constantly acting on our genes to create our health status, and part of that environment is the quality of your thoughts.  Are your thoughts defeatist or hopeful in nature?  Are they leading you in the direction of a healthier lifestyle, or are they convincing you it’s not possible?

If you would like to be healthier  - who wouldn’t? – I think you will find that Deepak Chopra knows a thing or two about this.  His recent blog post is very encouraging, and much to my liking, also based on solid research about the human body.

Are you missing the YUM?

My brother-in-law told me a story yesterday that I keep coming back to, thinking about, and appreciating the gentle reminder it provided.  Nearly all of us, myself included, can use a gentle nudge back to the YUM we are missing every day.

While preparing to enter the pool for his regular lap workout, my brother-in-law noticed a young child beginning her private swim lesson nearby.  She winced and wiggled, not at all comfortable with this new, wet, anti-gravity environment.  The instructor calmed the child with a soft voice and a gentle hand, encouraging her to lean back and relax.

At first, she resisted, not trusting this unfamiliar position in the water, but slowly she relaxed and settled into the instructors supportive hands.  Then the smile appeared, broad and bright, silently screaming, “I did it!”

My brother-in-law soaked it in, enjoying the landmark moment, probably also remembering similar times with his own children.  He turned around to see the child’s mother, anticipating the joy she must have felt.  Unfortunately, she missed it completely, her hands moving rapidly over the keys of her mobile phone, eyes turned down to look at the screen.

I taught a class about tasting and savoring food just a few days ago.  The challenge to stay mindful is no different – or any easier – than remembering to enjoy the many simple pleasures of everyday life when constant distractions get in the way.   We miss a large amount of eating enjoyment by neglecting to be present as we eat!

The taste of food can be such a pleasure, yet how often do any of us fully appreciate each bite?  Just as it is an impossible goal to be totally present in our lives at all moments, we will never taste every bite, yet it certainly helps to remember to try once in a while.  This alone can make less feel like enough.

Pleasure Seeking

Need Help Evaluating Weight Loss Product Claims?

It would be really, really, REALLY great if a weight loss product actually did what it promises.  There are few other products - erectile dysfunction products come to mind – that create such . . . um, high . . . expectations.

A list of guidelines for evaluating the claims for the many weight loss products on the market would be so helpful, and that is exactly what I found.  Developed by the Federal Trade Commission (Try their quick quiz), the Seven “Gut Check” Claims have been adapted for publication in the Journal of the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics.

The following seven claims are worth noting and using to avoid unrealistic expectations – and wasted time and effort.  

1.Causes weight loss of 2 lb or more a week for a month or more without dieting or exercise.

Gut check: Meaningful weight loss requires taking in fewer calories than you use. It’s that simple. But it’s also that difficult for people trying to shed pounds. That means ads promising substantial weight loss without diet or exercise are false. And ads suggesting that users can lose weight fast without changing their lifestyles—even without mentioning a specific amount of weight or length of time—are false, too. Some ads might try a subtler approach, say, by referring to change in dress size or lost inches, but the effect is the same.
2.Causes substantial weight loss no matter what or how much the consumer eats.

Gut check: It’s impossible to eat unlimited amounts of food—any kind of food—and still lose weight. It’s a matter of science: To lose weight, you have to burn more calories than you take in. To achieve success, dieters have to put the brakes on at the dinner table. If an ad says users can eat any amount of any kind of food they want and still lose weight, the claim is false.
3.Causes permanent weight loss even after the consumer stops using product.

Gut check: Without long-term lifestyle changes—like continuing to make sensible food choices and upping the activity level—weight loss won’t last once consumers stop using the product. Even if dieters succeed in dropping pounds, maintaining weight loss requires lifelong effort.
4.Blocks the absorption of fat or calories to enable consumers to lose substantial weight.

Gut check: Without lifestyle changes, no over-the-counter product can block enough fat or calories to cause the loss of lots of weight. To work, even legitimate “fat blockers” must be used with a reduced-calorie diet.
5.Safely enables consumers to lose more than 3 lb per week for more than 4 weeks.

Gut check: Medical experts agree: Losing more than 3 lb a week over multiple weeks can result in gallstones and other health complications. So if an ad says dieters can safely and quickly lose a dramatic amount of weight on their own, it’s false.
6.Causes substantial weight loss for all users.

Gut check: People’s metabolisms and lifestyles are different. So is how they’ll respond to any particular weight-loss product. The upshot: No product will cause every user to drop a substantial amount of weight. Any ad that makes a universal promise of success is false.
7.Causes substantial weight loss by wearing a product on the body or rubbing it into the skin.

Gut check: Weight loss is an internal metabolic process. Nothing you wear or apply to the skin can cause substantial weight loss. So weight-loss claims for patches, creams, lotions, wraps, body belts, earrings, and the like are false. There’s simply no way products like that can live up to what the ads say.

 

Just for Luck . . .

I’m now getting ready to start development of an Android version of my phone app, In the Moment – Mindful Eating, which is already available for iPhone in the App Store.  It never hurts to carry a good luck charm around with me . . .

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To You, Dad!

IToday is the memorial service for my father.  I have been revisiting dmemories of my special times with him over the years in preparation for the brief tribute I will make to him at the service.  Maybe because of my food-focused life, my thoughts have taken a food-focused form.  You can learn a lot about a person by what they do with food:  how they prepare it, how they eat it, and how they share the experiences surrounding it.

My dad had no use for recipes, in his cooking or in how he defined himself. He always cooked from scratch, and that is pretty much how he created himself too. Even though he was a Yale-educated lawyer with a long, impressive career, he was still the guy a waitress or bartender would greet warmly by name at the Channel Inn, one of his favorite places for a burger and a beer.

He liked nice things, but mostly he just appreciated the simple, basic pleasures of life: breakfast at Gearge Webb, not George Watts; Timex, not Rolex; and most of all, time with family and friends.

He was a traditional breadwinner in the style of the 50’s and 60’s, but then again he wasn’t. Unlike Ward Cleaver, he seldom settled into a chair after work to read the paper quietly. He preferred to spend active time playing with his kids.

Occasionally he even stepped over the line into the role of nurturer, normally filled by my mother. I have a very special personal memory of one of those times. My mother was not at home, and my dad was in charge. I was probably around 6 years old, and I wanted my hair curled. It was something my mom had done for me a few times. I remember him carefully and somewhat clumsily twirling pieces of my hair around his fingers and anchoring each piece with a couple of bobbie pins, just how I told him to do it. As I said, he was not someone to be defined by any recipe-type of formula of what a dad of that time period should be, and we all benefitted from that.

In the kitchen, food preparation was one way he expressed a lot of love and caring, not to mention adventure and fun! There is no better example of this than the Sunday morning breakfast “events” he orchestrated with us. “Us” did not include Mom, because she was queen for the morning. Only as I got older did I fully appreciate how nice this must have been for my mom to be cared for and allowed to stay in bed to await her service. This service evolved through the weeks, months, and years from simple to quite elaborate and complex.

I remember developing menus and taking my mom’s breakfast order.  Over time, we began to incorporate sterling flatware and cloth napkins – only the finest for our mom would do!  We would go shopping to pick up donuts and other supplies.  All the while, we learned to anticipate the pleasure she would get.  “Oh, she really loves those plates . . . let’s use them.”  My dad was always with us on this.  Never did we hear, “No, those are too fancy.  They might break.”

Along with his spirit of fun and adventure, making me want to sign on for whatever he had in mind, another trait I always admired was his willingness to take chances, try new things, risk “failure,” and make the best out any and all outcomes. In the kitchen, this played out in his love of creating sauces of all kinds for all types of dishes. They were all unique. Some were great, and some were, honestly, more interesting than tasty.

But that’s not the point. The point is that he loved to invent his sauces with what he had. I remember one time – on vacation, with limited pantry supplies – when I watched as he put a little of this and a little of that together, all things that seemed normal (broth, seasonings, whatever), until he grabbed the box of grits. I don’t remember this as my favorite of all of his sauce inventions, but I will say that I remember it best, simply because he got such a kick out of trying something new with limited resources. He was not afraid of ruining it. He just tossed the grits in with an attitude of “Let’s see how this works. How bad could it be??!”

As an adult, I sometimes hesitate with decisions about trying something unknown, something with no definite “recipe” for success. I am not a huge risk-taker at heart, yet I know that without the guts to do those things, life ends up being a little “flat.” I try to think of Dad at times like that. I know he would tell me, “Life is short. Just go ahead and throw in the grits!”

 

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