Is Your Diet Making You Unhappy?

‘Tis the Season (to be merry, bright, and full)

It’s basically a given that overeating, to some degree, is going to happen during the holiday season. So how do we eliminate overeating during the holidays? We don’t! It’s unrealistic, and honestly, unnecessary. Overeating is part of the holiday experience, but what we can do, is ensure this occurs in a healthy way.

Most of my clients feel an overwhelming sense of guilt for indulging in the holiday spreads, which leads to shame. Let’s not forget ’tis the season to feel joyful. My hope is by sharing posts on Intuitive Eating it will help you forgive yourself for feeling guilty and be merry instead.

dear diet

3 Signs That Your Plan Isn’t Working and How to Change it

1. You Can’t Follow The Rules.

When you’re following a plan that is inflexible with “yes” or “no” or “good” or “bad” food rules, guilt always follows. This type of restrictive eating is controlling and rigid, often making you preoccupied with food thoughts. So how do we deal with these moments and get on with enjoying the important part of the holidays like our family and friends?

Make a truce with yourself right now that you are going to overeat and you are going to savor every bite you choose to take with awareness and gratitude. When making your plate, ask what do I really want (not necessarily what is healthiest/you should eat). When you eat, use all your senses like sight, smell, taste, touch (texture on your tongue) to enjoy your food.

 2. You’re Measuring Success by “Losing”. 

Whether you’re measuring weight loss by pounds or inches lost or by what you are not eating, you’re labeling your success by deprivation. As humans we needs rewards and positive praise. I have never met a single person who said they got pleasure and enjoyment out of denying themselves foods they love. Don’t measure success by deprivation, instead start counting the positive stuff in your life, like spending time with people who bring you joy.

3. No One Wants to Hang Out with You

The holiday season is a time for socializing, connecting and celebrating with people that bring joy to your life. But when you’re standing around the hors d’oeuvres blabbing out “I shouldn’t have that!” or “I’m going to regret this later,” you’re ruining everyone’s holiday cheer, including your own. When you’re so caught up in how you look or too worried about what you’re going to eat, people begin to sense the negativity and don’t want to be around it. 

Imagine what would happen if you just let go and gave yourself permission to eat? In my experience (personal and with clients) you tend to enjoy the food without the guilt and you tend to eat it in moderation. You still get the healthy stuff you like too. Not because you have to, but because you want to.

Join in #WhatMattersMost

whatmattersmostDiets shouldn’t exist, but healthy lifestyles should! Let’s kick off holiday cheer with diet-ditching, body-loving self-care together! What matters more in your life than counting calories or dieting? I’d love to hear from you! Share your tweets or snap a picture using the hashtag #whatmattersmost.

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Celebrate Gratitude With a Healthy Twist: Breakfast Strata, Corn Chowder, Roasted Cranberries

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Check out my latest appearance on WBAL talking healthy eats during the holiday season.

Thanksgiving is only days away but the holiday season is just kicking off! I love this time of year because it’s all about gratitude – celebrating with good friends, family – and of course, FOOD. Check out my recent TV appearance where I share some last minute healthy twists to your festive holiday dishes and where to find the best grocery bargains.

Holiday Entertaining That Won’t Break the Bank

When I’m hosting a crowd I love making one dish meals. It saves time and doesn’t skimp on flavor. I love this savory recipe inspired from bacon kale stratBon Appetite Magazine: Bacon, Kale, Parmesan strata  Strata is dish where you combine sautéed vegetables (I added mushrooms and tomatoes to the original recipe), eggs, and bread and then bake it. It’s surprisingly easy to pull together simple natureand it’s a great dish to serve around the holidays, especially for a crowd. You can get this recipe and many more at Aldi.US.
And who doesn’t love to save money this time of year? If you haven’t shopped at Aldi yet, you can save up to 50% on your grocery bill! (Surprising, right?) You can find great deals without compromising on quality – including organic fresh and frozen produce and even a line called Simply Nature with no artificial ingredients.

What to Serve With the Bird

Dairy-Pure-Milk-Printable-Coupon-Looking for last minute ideas on “what to serve with the bird”?  Mashed potatoes are a favorite on Thanksgiving – but don’t let the white color fool you, potatoes are a vegetable with good nutrients. These Creamy Garlic Mashed Potatoes are a guaranteed crowed pleaser at your Thanksgiving feast. mash spuds For a twist on the corn side dish, try making this Creamy Corn Chowder filled with vegetables.  Both recipes are made with milk too, which offers a boost of protein, vitamins and minerals.

I like DairyPure milk for all my holiday cooking and baking recipes. It contains no artificial growth hormones and is the only milk backed by a Purity Promise. Fresh, quality milk for your family. You can get these recipes at Dairy Pure or follow them on Facebook.

Add Color and Health with Cranberries

This time of year it’s all about cranberries – fresh, frozen, dried, and cranberry juice can benefit your health. New research from the Cranberry Health Research Conference shows that drinking cranberry juice may protect the heart. A study on healthy men showed improvements to vascular function and blood flow. cran spritzerServe up a festive looking beverage to your guests with a simple cranberry spritzer using sparkling water and a splash of cranberry juice.

For Thanksgiving dinner, take a shortcut using canned cranberry sauce and dress it up with chopped dried cranberries, pecans and orange zest. cranberry-and-pecan-green-beans-033Or try adding a pop of color and tang to any holiday dish using chopped dried cranberries — they’re a great compliment to Brussels sprouts, green beans or any grain-based salad. Cranberry products are usually sweetened because they are naturally acidic and low in sugar. Dried cranberries have similar sugar to other dried fruits. You can visit The Cranberry Institute to learn more great health benefits of cranberries.

Hear it From You

Let us know! What festive Thanksgiving dishes will you be serving up? Please share below or tweet to @ScritchfieldRD! I’d love to hear them!

Find out more about these products and topics through Twitter at @USCranberries and @AldiUSA and follow Dairy Pure on Facebook.

Disclosures: I was compensated by The Cranberry Institute, Aldi US, and Dairy Pure for my work on the TV segment, but was not compensated to write this blog.

3 Festive Thanksgiving Feast Ideas to Boost Flavor and Nutrition

happy tday

Watch here! My mindful eating tips to enjoy your Thanksgiving Feast, plus festive holiday food ideas.

Thanksgiving is almost here! I love this time of year because it’s all about gratitude – celebrating with good friends, family – and of course, FOOD, which is a meaningful part of our traditions.

Don’t waste time on thinking about “food rules” and what you can or can’t eat. It’s not fun, AND most people don’t realize, you usually end up overeating because your brain gets too tired out from resisting tempting foods! Instead, focus on savoring your food and slowing down – or Mindful eating helps you enjoy what you really want, and get satisfied without putting you into a food coma.

I’ve got some food ideas and recipes to help boost the nutrition value for your festive food choices to make your celebration healthy, happy, and memorable.

What to Serve While Everyone is Waiting on Dinner

When you’re entertaining, it’s nice to take some shortcuts. But instead of putting out potato chips, offer up satisfying snacks that won’t spoil your guests’ appetites before the big feast.pistacio

Wonderful Pistachios are just as easy to serve to your guests, plus they have three times the protein, fiber, and portion size per serving! Just put them out for crackin’ and snackin’ on and around Thanksgiving.

If you’re on the road, Wonderful Pistachios come in convenient 100 calorie packaging or you can make your own–you get 49 nuts in a serving of pistachios – more than any other nut. Try tasty varieties including the classic roasted & salted, lightly salted for just a touch of salt, and great flavors such as sweet chili and salt & pepper.

pumpkin-hummus-ck-xMany people love hummus and there are so many ways to serve it. Try an easy variation – warmed pumpkin hummus – just stir in ½ cup pumpkin puree into your hummus and warm it up for a few minutes and top with toasted pumpkin seeds.

Two heaping spoons of Sabra hummus a day will have you eating 1 ½ cups of beans in a week, increasing your fiber intake, plus boosting the veggies you eat – not to mention when you serve Sabra hummus as part of your veggie platter it can serve as your “scoop vehicle” for the hummus. It’s a win-win.

What to Serve to Drinkpom spritzer

Serve up a festive cocktails and mocktails using pomegranate juice. POM Wonderful 100% Pomegranate Juice contains the juice from two whole pomegranates, and nothing more. I love using this for holiday beverages – like Spiced POM Cider, or try mixing with sparkling wine or sparkling water at your holiday table.

 Everything but Turkey – Colorful and Creative Sides

For the holiday table – we all know we’ll be enjoying some mashed potatoes – one of my family’s favorites. Add a “secret ingredient” to your spuds by using hummus instead of butter and cream, which cuts about 15 mash spudsgrams of fat per serving and adds a zesty flavor and creamy texture that your guests will find delightful.pom brussle

As you plan your holiday menu, think color! Pomegranate arils offer a delicious flavor and a perfect festive color for your side dishes like these Roasted Pomegranate Brussels Sprouts. You can buy Wonderful Pomegranates whole, or try POM POMs, a convenient package of ready to eat arils.

What to Eat for Energy

Be the host with the most, but don’t get stuck ravenous. Stay on top of hunger and keep up your energy up between meals with nutritious snacks.Kind bar

KIND bars are smart snacks, made with real, wholesome ingredients and use 50% less sugar compared to the average snack bar, only 5-6g per bar. Pair them with yogurt or cheese for added protein to keep you powering through your to-do lists, or enjoy them with a piece of fresh fruit for some quick energy while on the go.

If you’re looking to satisfy your sweet tooth while still snacking healthy try KIND Nuts & Spices. Nuts and Spices come in a variety of delicious flavors, including Maple Caramel Sea Salt, Madagascar Vanilla Almond, Dark Chocolate Mocha.

Hear it From You

Let us know! What festive Thanksgiving dishes will you be serving up? Please share below or tweet to @ScritchfieldRD! We’d love to hear them!

Find out more about these products and topics through Twitter at @POMWonderful, @getcrackin, @Sabra and @KINDSnacks!

Tasty and nutritious, add some of these festive ideas to your Thanksgiving menu and you’ll be sure to add some health as well!

Disclosures: I was compensated by Sabra, KIND snacks, and Wonderful (pomegranate and pistachio) for my work on the TV segment, but was not compensated to write this blog.

5 Tricks to Treating Yourself on Halloween

There’s nothing scarier than approaching Halloween (or any holiday) with a mindset that you can’t join in on any of the fun.

But how do you go in with a plan that makes you feel good November 1st? You try my five tricks (my treat for you!)

How do you approach a Happy Halloween? Leave your favorite celebration mantras and philosophies in the comments below.


Trick 1: Lose the Food Rules

It’s called will power, not won’t power. Unless you want to feel like it’s Night of the Living Dead, you will want to keep your self control in check, which means you need to stop saying “I won’t eat this or that or that or….” The human brain is a powerful organ and it really tries to follow your arbitrary rules, but the reasonable part gets tired quickly and then the unreasonable part takes over and sends you reeling toward your sugary food reward except now moderation is out the window. Stay rational and say I will enjoy some Halloween treat.

The rest of the “tricks” I offer will help you keep your self control.

Trick 2: Play Favorites

When it comes to candy, I’ll be honest everything is my favorite except maybe black licorice, circus peanuts, and candy corn (I know blasphemy on the last one.) If I had to choose, it would be Reese cups, hands down. The more choice options you have the more you want and the more you are probably going to eat. A sign of good self control is that you can rationally pick your favorite candy and come up with a plan for what you want to do. Ask yourself What treats would I enjoy most in my ideal Halloween evening? 

Trick 3: Savor the Flavor

Most of us don’t know how to savor our food anymore – especially treats and desserts. Part of the problem is the food rules situation I mentioned above. When you decide you dig in, your brain also (counter intuitively) says “let’s get this over with!” It makes no sense, but it’s because you feel bad deep down about your choice. You take your mind out of the game and you tend to overeat it and feel guilty later. (Where is the fun in that?)

Savoring your Halloween treats is easy. Just use your senses – all of them. Notice how it looks, the aroma, mouthfeel and taste. A sign of a flexible eater is the ability to sit with that urge to gobble it up like a Gremlin and just enjoy the food anyway. Give yourself a challenge to make it last, then get on with other Halloween fun to savor. gremlins2_48-12

Trick 4: Let Yourself Get Satisfied

Many of my clients will say something like “It’s so hard to do moderation when my husband/kids/friends are going crazy with the candy. It’s not faiiiiiiiiiirrrrrr. What’s happening here is that we are all a little bit childish and want immediate gratification with what all the cool kids are doing. If you are only letting yourself have one and then you’re back to food policing, you’re a restrained eater. Instead of telling yourself how much you can have, Ask yourself How much do I think I would want to get satisfied?  Summons the rational thinker.

If you’re eating mindfully and recognize you’re not satisfied, I bet it’s the just got out of jail and the cops are looking for me problem. Tell yourself that it’s OK to eat more as long as you are calm and mindful about it. Usually, the free feeling of permission allows you to recognize that you are satisfied or slows you down so you eat less staying “checked in” rather than “checking out” and acting like a Gremlin.

Trick 5: Show Yourself Some Love

No matter what goes down on October 31, there’s good news. The day ends and November 1st is here. Don’t use honest mistakes as an excuse to continue to avoid your long term goals. Also, don’t beat yourself up. That only makes you feel bad, stressed out, and (shocker) emotionally hungry for MORE candy!!!!

If you overdo it on Halloween, forgive any mistakes you made. You are human. It’s part of the growth process. Instead, ask yourself What can I learn from this experience? What did I truly enjoy and what did I do that is not who I want to be?

How do you approach a Happy Halloween? I’d love to know what “tricks” you have up your sleeve.

Leave your favorite celebration mantras and philosophies in the comments below.

Speaking of Love, Link Love!

I’m not the only level-headed realistic dietitian who follows the rule of “no rules”! Check out some of my favorite blogs, tips, and recipes from some of my fabulous RD colleagues!

5 Tricks to Help Kids Manage Halloween Treats

Teal Pumpkin Project (food allergies and non candy treat options)

Treating Without All the Tricks

Halloween Ravioli Recipe

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Rebecca Scritchfield's Feel Great GuideGet my free Feel Great Guide if you would like to create a healthy, happy life you love.It’s 20+ pages of creative and realistic ideas for living joyfully (and yes, still being healthy!) You’ll get on my  e-mail list which offers additional tools, resources and tips I don’t provide anywhere else.

If you love it, recommend it to your friends too. Muchas gracias

Also check out from my fellow mom RD friends: Self care tips for moms and Treating Yourself (on Mother’s Day) but we know we need this 365!

Stress Less on Family Dinner – A Playbook for Parents

Ahhhh… Dinner. It’s not just about eating.

A shared meal is a place to reconnect with each other after a busy day of buzzing around in opposite directions (a key ingredient for better health and happiness for everyone). 

Yet, even though we want to make the “ideal dinner” happen regularly and We know how many good things can come from enjoying a meal with our family. We cannot deny that dinner can quickly become a source of stress. Not always the good kind that energizes you, but the kind that leaves you saying “Screw it, I don’t care. Pass the cereal.” 

I’m recalling last night, for example, dining on leftover lukewarm calzone while my youngest frolicked in the tub, covered in what appeared to be a mixture of yogurt, tuna fish, and snot (she’s getting over a cold, it was a state of emergency to get her to the tub). And there I was, trying not to get my dinner wet.  

Nevertheless, there is help.

I was recently inspired by the art behind meal planning after reading DINNER – The Playbook by Jenny Rosenstrach. (Jenny, you don’t know me yet, but I heart you.)dinner_theplaybook

I discovered Jenny’s awesome books after her blog (and mine) were both recognized by Janet Helm of Nutrition Unplugged as part of the “good” (not bad or ugly) of bloggers.

Below are some of Jenny’s tips I found the most helpful and sensible for stressing less about dinner. I’d love to hear your thoughts and ideas below.  

Where do I Start?

Start with a calendar, a strategy and a well-considered batch of recipes, and most importantly a commitment to making dinner happen. Acknowledge that there is never going to be a perfect time when you have a week without work, recitals or melt-downs. Even if such a week did exist, what would you be learning after all? The idea is to get into a rhythm where dinner no longer becomes a source of stress or dread, rather a time to reconnect and unwind. 

Share the Load

Avoid making dinner just on you, that’s when it becomes a burden. Dinner is for the whole family, therefore everyone can pitch in. Anyone can learn how to cook–start with simple easy-to-follow recipes like Quesadillas or Omelets. Kids can browse through cook books and share their preferences or simply answer the question “what do you want for dinner?” Enlist helpers in the making dinner happen tasks such as setting/clearing the table, unloading the dishwasher, placing the condiments on the table. 

Build Meals Around Familiar Ingredients

When you know everyone’s palates and taste preferences you are able to select recipes that will not be offensive. Build on foods everyone loves. An example is pasta, use it as the base and add to it with new ingredients like roasted tomatoes and mushrooms. If they don’t like the new add-ins at least they’ll have a positive outlook that it is ‘pasta’ when they sit down for dinner.  This can be a helpful strategy when introducing new recipes that involve new flavors.

Gather Your Recipes (the fun part!)

Dig out that pile of the “someday we’ll make this” recipes and add to it with new recipes. To start, you’ll probably want to pick 15 “go-to” recipes. From there, weave in recipes that involve new flavors, colors, and textures. Remember, the end goal is to put an edible dinner on the table not impress the Queen of England.

Make a Meal Plan

Find a time to round up the family before the week get started. (Ideally Saturday and on Sunday you will do your shopping). It’s helpful to have everyone bring their calendars if you are juggling multiple kids/schedules.

Suggested Formulas for Meal Planning

  • Use monikers like “Meatless Mondays” or “Taco Tuesdays”.
  • “Fish” or any seafood dish, make it happen on Sunday or Monday so it is still fresh from your weekly shop (done on Sunday).
  • “Halfway There” recipes that has a make-ahead component, ie, pasta sauce or or something that has been marinating all day. This can also be based on repurposing leftovers (steak into steak salad).
  • “Use It or Lose It” this is the last dinner of the week that takes advantage of the odds and ends in the crisper drawer, ie Baked Potato or Taco Bar and also helps you feel less guilty about going out to dinner on the weekend.
  • “Double Up” by making a double batch of spicy mayo to use on asparagus with a fish dish at the beginning of the week and then Chicken BLTs later in the week. Or make an extra batch of rice to use for a tofu bowl one night, then add to an omelet later in the week.

Shop on Sundays

To keep is reasonable on yourself do the bulk of your shopping at one store (ideally same place you can buy toilet paper and parmesan cheese). Make Sunday your day to do your big shop. Take your kids with you, have them help make the grocery list/clip coupons. This will also help them learn practical life skills, like sticking to a budget, selecting the best produce and bagging groceries.

Build up your pantry with flavorful staples like canned chipoltes in adobo sauce, anchovies, rice wine vinegar and dijon mustard. Overtime you’ll have a nice collection of these ingredients that add flavor to dishes and  you’ll be more willing to try new recipes.

Prep Ahead

Is there anything you can do before you leave the house for the day that you haven’t already done on the weekend? This can simply be setting a pot of water on the stove so it’s ready for boil when you walk in the door. Or washing and chopping the veggies for the recipe the night before. You will appreciate this small task at the end of the day. 

Keep Notes

After you’ve finished your meal take a few moments to reflect on it. What grade would you give it? What did they kids think about it? Did it require too much prep? Was the clean up brutal? Most important, is it a keeper? Taking these few extra minutes before you go to bed with will help make future meal planning a breeze. 

Let’s Hear it From You

What are your meal planning secrets to serving up nutritious meals and keeping everyone happy? I’d love to hear your tips! Feel free to share by leaving a comment below.