This simple mindfulness exercise could help transform your eating habits.

Check in on your numbers to determine if your body thinks you should eat.

Check in on your numbers to determine when you should eat and when you should stop.

What If I Told You Healthful Eating Is Not About The Food?

OK, that’s not totally true. Nutrition matters. The simplest way to follow nutrition advice is to look at your plate and fill it up with nourishing foods you love. There’s a room for a little bit of this and a little bit of that and there’s no need to eliminate an ingredient (like butter or salt) or food group (like banishing carbs).

But… We Overthink “What” Is On the Plate and Underthink “Why” and “How Much”

Humans, for the most part, suck at mindfulness. We are a culture of distracted, dedicated multitaskers. When we do 2-5 things at once we aren’t paying attention to any of it. We might be there but we are not aware.

The Culture of Busyness: We’ve made busyness a competitive sport in our busyness as a badge of honor culture. We brag about how tired and exhausted we are, how much stuff we cram onto our calendars, how we’ve run around and been so productive and crossed so much stuff off our to-do lists, and yet have so much more to do. It’s become so ingrained, we don’t realize we’re doing it! – Brigid Schulte, author The Overwhelm

My social media feed is overflowing with “what” to eat or “what” to definitely avoid.  In busyness reality, if we stop to think about “what” goes on our plate at all, we are best served to view it as an opportunity to energize, feel better, and improve health, but it is not nearly as extreme as you would think. My 3 year old will devour kale, but she needs it to taste good. When I saute kale with butter and salt, it wins dinner. I’m OK with that.

How Often Do You Think About “Why” “How Much” to Eat?

This hunger scale can help you make choices about eating more easily using a basic mindfulness skill we all have access to – self awareness.

  • Why eat? – Hungry (for the most part… this is not a rule, but a guide based on your body’s needs)
  • How much? – Until you get comfortable full, no longer hungry.

All you need to start using self awareness is two things: 1. Stop 2. Pay attention That’s it.

Eating should feel good before during and after and you will feel your best physically and emotionally eating in the range of 3-7, on a scale out of 10.

Check in on your numbers to determine if your body thinks you should eat.

 

How Can Mindfulness Transform My Habits

The definition of a habit is a routine you do without having to think about it. It’s mindless. Now, that’s a good thing when it’s a habit you want to keep. But what if you’re trying to eat better?

All the focus on calories, nutrients, and morally good and bad foods is exhausting and unnecessary. It’s a big ole waste of time you don’t have. Using mindfulness as a guide you don’t have to worry about anything except eating when you feel hungry, making a balanced plate (when you want to prioritize health and nutrition), and savoring your meal as you notice getting more full.

Paying attention will help you make food choices and it’s so much easier than dieting and calorie counting.

“I Can’t Figure Out My Numbers”

Yes you can.

You get good at mindfulness by practicing mindfulness. You get good at connecting to your body by trying to connect to your body. You get good at choosing a hunger number by practicing choosing your hunger number.

You are a resourceful person. You can do great things. But you need to slow down. Sit down. And focus on eating. I know you’re busy, but you deserve that time.

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Ditch Your Diet and Make Small, Satisfying Changes Instead

On average, women will try – and quit – 9 diets in her life. And recent research shows the more diets people go on, the more weight they gain. Instead of hopping on that pointless diet roller coaster again, make little changes that are healthy and enjoyable.

Little Changes Big Taste

Blueberries are jam-packed with fiber, vitamin C, and manganese plus there are only 80 calories in 1 cup.  And you can add them to practically anything – these little blue dynamos pair perfectly with everything from oatmeal to savory dishes. Try them in this salmon and avocado flatbread for a quick and nourishing meal.

Snack Smart with Sargento

Sargento cheese snacks have 4-8 grams of protein/serving to keep you fueled and satisfied with a natural source of protein.  It’s a wholesome snacking option that doesn’t sacrifice on taste – there are 14 varieties like sharp cheddar, Colby jack, and pepper jack to help you stay fueled even when you’re on the go.

Make a Better Breakfast

When it comes to breakfast, you want a delicious and nutrition option, and it’s great if it’s also convenient since we’re always on the go, especially in the morning.  New KIND breakfast bars are soft baked with a crispy outside, and loaded with whole grains for sustained energy throughout the morning.  Each two-bar pack provides more than a full serving of whole grains and is a great source of fiber to fill you up. Try them on their own, dipped in Greek yogurt, or paired with fruit, milk, or your morning latte.

Don’t Deprive Yourself

Don’t cut out all the things you love. Studies show that the more you try to avoid something the more you want it and the greater chances you have of overeating eventually.  For my sweet cravings, I love enjoying these Heavenly Organics Chocolate Honey Patties – they are made with 4 ingredients or less and have have a dark chocolate shell made from 100% cocoa that’s filled with 100% raw organic honey blended with natural flavors like Mint, Pomegranate and Peanut.

Upgrade your Sports Drink

It’s not just food, but we need exercise to be healthy. When we work out, it’s crucial to stay well- hydrated.  If you’re an athlete or have a very active child, you might benefit from more than just plain water during activity, especially if it’s over 60 minutes. Parents will often ask me, what’s the best sports drink for my active child and I recommend BodyArmor because it has no artificial ingredients, is low in sodium, and has more potassium-packed electrolytes and vitamins that any other sports drink, and it’s made with coconut water.  Try 7 great tasting flavors like fruit punch, orange mango, and strawberry banana.

Hear it From You

Let us know! What are some of your favorite tips to “ditch the diet” and stay healthy?  Please share below or tweet to @ScritchfieldRD! I’d love to hear them!

Find out more about these products and topics by connecting on Twitter

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Disclosure: I was compensated by U.S. Highbush Blueberry Council, Sargento, KIND snacks, Heavenly Organics, and Body Armor for my work on the TV segment, but was not compensated to write this blog. Recommendations and opinion are my own.

 

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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You’re Thanksgiving Full, Is It Time to Diet?

I sincerely hope you enjoyed every bite of delicious food and did not worry about calories, food rules, or anything but your comfort, joy and happiness.

Usually, my clients come back from Thanksgiving feeling guilty.

Even if you got “stuffed like the turkey” it happens to us all and as you probably noticed it goes away with time to “rest and digest.” You may have even noticed you felt better after a nice brisk walk with family or play time with kiddos.

If you have guilt for overeating, or some emotional eating check in with yourself. Is it your “diet brain” talking? Is it the fear of weight gain?

After you get curious about your guilt, forgive yourself immediately! I’m not talking about apologizing for indulging. I’m talking about forgiving yourself for feeling guilty.

Last time I checked lots of people indulged on Thanksgiving.  There is no special reason you should feel bad. Even if you got too full, even if you felt uncomfortable, I’m 100% confident you weren’t the only one.

There’s a reason we use “Thanksgiving full” as the 9 out of 10 on the fullness scale I use with clients. It’s that once-a-year full (OK maybe more often than once, but it’s not what you usually do at most meals and snacks. You wouldn’t because it’s not comfortable.)

Practice Loving Kindness

If you would like to practice self-forgiveness, try the Loving Kindness Meditation (or Metta) which has been shown to increase positive emotions and happiness.

RS-LovingKindness

Over the next several weeks I will be sharing a series of posts that focus on the practice of Intuitive Eating and how our relationship with food influences our happiness. Before you consider your next diet, hear me out on why you should reconsider…

Why Diets Don’t Work

As anyone who has ever been on a diet knows, it is difficult to permanently and safely lose weight. Why is this? It seems straightforward – calories in, calories out, right? Actually, one of the biggest problems associated with weight concerns is that most people have problems discerning the difference between emotional hunger and physical hunger.

Take a minute to think about what your weight was the first time you went on a diet…now where is your weight? With each diet we often end up regaining all the weight we lost, plus more. Why is this? When we diet we are manipulating our metabolism — slowly depriving it of the fuel it needs. Over time it becomes very “efficient” by slowing down so it is able to function on minimal energy. This makes it very difficult to maintain any weight loss and over time our set-point weight creeps higher and higher.

What Matters Most

I would like to invite everyone to think about what matters most in your life? Often we think we will be happier if we lose weight, but take a second to think about what in your life will change when you lose the weight?

  • Will your friends and family still love you?
  • Will you still have the same job?
  • Will all the things that make you happy still make you happy?

Our lives really don’t change unless we change our habits. And if you’ve been on even one diet and stopped it, you know that it didn’t do squat for your habits. Instead of focusing on your weight, focus on your habits and how they make you feel.

It’s not just weight loss that won’t make you happy. Jobs, relationships, money and others also don’t do much for you for very long. Read 7 happiness myths you should stop believing from researcher Sonja Lyubomirsky, Ph.D., Professor of Psychology at the University of California, Riverside.

Join in #WhatMattersMost

What matters more in your life than counting calories or dieting? I’d love to hear from you! Share your tweet or snap a picture using the hashtag #whatmattersmost. Stay tuned, next week we will be discussing emotional hunger and how you can respond in useful ways.

 

 

 

What Should We Do About #DearFatPeople?

Unless you’ve been living under a rock this past week, by now you’ve have heard of, read about, or watched the offensive and shaming #DearFatPeople video Nicole Arbour created in the name of “comedy”. You may have even seen one of the responses, which at least this awful video gets people talking and saying “this sh*t ain’t right.”

There is a lot of chatter going on about the idea of fat shaming, summed up to “it’s bullying” and “it’s never OK.” I agree. It’s one of the reasons I’ve been supporting Association for Size Diversity and Health (I’m a member) Health at Every Size and their collaboration with Women’s Health Magazine in their #StopTheShame campaign on Twitter.

The Gasoline for Weight Stigma

In thinking about what I could possibly contribute that would add to the “this is not OK” conversation, I was immediately drawn to exploring what fuels weight stigma in the first place. The first thing that comes to mind, is the idea of dieting. In our desperation to conform to societal thin ideals, we diet. Instead of exercising and eating well because we love our bodies, it’s because we hate them. We compare. We despair.

It’s Not Just Adults Who Diet. It starts Early.

I have been working on a blog and infographic on teens and dieting. The fact that I’m even having to do this is sad. It sucks. As a mom of two, I dread my girls feeling the pull of dieting like I did by 12 years old.
What I want to know is, what should we do about it? Let me know in the comments below.
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A 10-year study looked at dieting, unhealthy and extreme weight control behaviors, and binge eating to determine if engaging in these behaviors during adolescence increased the risk for continuing them into young adulthood.  The study involved 2,287 adolescents and young adults that were about half female and half non-white and divided participants into a younger group (average age ~13) and an older group (average age ~16).

At the beginning of the study approximately 50% females and 25% of males reported dieting in the past year. For females and younger males, this number stayed consistent through young adulthood.  The number of dieters in the older male group actually increased as the study progressed.

Over 50% of females and 33% of males engaged in unhealthy weight control behaviors at the start of the study.  Particularly alarming was that extreme weight control behaviors including diet pill use in all groups, and laxative use in young females increased significantly over the 10 year period.

Overall, those who reported dieting at the beginning of the study were more likely to continue this behavior.  The same result was seen in regards to unhealthy and extreme weight control behaviors and binge eating.

Other studies have linked dieting to weight gain, binge eating, disordered eating, and eating disorders.  One study of 17,000 kids found that those who dieted were 8-12 times more likely to engage in binge eating than those who never dieted.  Researchers from this study actually suggested that dieting may be at the root of the current obesity epidemic!  These results were echoed in a twin study which showed that the weight gain associated with dieting is independent of genetic predisposition to weight gain.

This video provides more details on these studies.

 

 

These findings, suggest that we need to prevent these behaviors before they start.

NO CHILD OR TEEN SHOULD EVER DIET!!!!

Young people with weight concerns need to be guided towards healthy behaviors, including intuitive eating and physical activity and away from destructive dieting.

Healthy behaviors can start at home.  Practice intuitive and mindful eating as a family.  Focus on eating for physical hunger as opposed to emotional hunger. Also make fitness a family activity.  Everyone can benefit from healthful eating and exercise, get the whole family involved in the healthy lifestyle and DITCH the DIET!

For more information from Evelyn Tribole, MS, RD and her work with Intuitive Eating click here

Source: Neumark-Sztainer, D; Wall, M; Larson, NI; Eisenberg, ME; Loth, K. Dieting and disordered eating behaviors from adolescence to young adulthood: findings from a 10-year longitudinal study. J Am Diet Assoc. 2011 Jul;111(7):1004-11.

So… what should we do about #DearFatPeople?

I think one thing we need to do is loudly say that no amount of fat shaming is OK (and we need to listen to people who have been shamed!) They will tell you that family, friends, and medical professionals make them feel shame when they push and push and push for weight loss over healthy lifestyle as the goal. (At least that is what I hear time and again.) It’s as if their love is conditional. That’s just sad. What if someone makes the changes they want and don’t weigh what you think they should. Are you OK with that? I think we need to realize it’s not up for judgement. If we care about weight shaming, we need to also care about healthism, the idea that you can’t push health on people. Read what I have to say about it.

What Do You Think?

What do you think we should do about weight shame, stigma, dieting etc.? What were some of the best response articles and videos you found? Do you have a fat shame story? Share in the comments below.