Who has the control here, you or...sugar?

Who has the control here?  You or… sugar?


I recently coached some clients specifically around reducing sugar in their lives and some interesting things came out of it. They came to me wanting to reduce sugar in their diets as they were aware that their overall health was affected by their sugar intake. They both wanted to learn about alternatives that had less of a negative impact on their symptoms and how they felt. But it turns out that sugar brings up a whole host of other issues in our lives (shocker!). Diving deeper into the process, we discovered that sugar cravings mean different things for each of them. For one person it served as comfort and for another it served as a reward. For all it was a habit to reach for sugar when stress levels were high.


We talked all about the course of the day, their habits, and their typical diets. We talked about their sugar choices which were very different. For one person it meant a ritual she did with her son that enabled some quality time together. For this I didnt want her to stop the activity because I believed it to be a healthy one, but certain things could be changed around it. She and her son liked to bake together and so we worked on finding healthier alternatives for baking ingredients. We also talked about the possibility of other activities to make new connections with other experiences. Bonding is so important and sometimes that involves food, so we don’t want to do away with the food aspect altogether, especially when it facilitates bonding!


This also brought up other issues - that the aspect of food being part of self care was missing from her life. In other words, food and eating didn’t have a positive part in her life overall. This is very common actually, and is probably a topic for another day..


Another client found herself to be quite busy and so she tended to reach for sweets when she was particularly busy or stressed. We discussed the triggers for this, and researched different options for healthier sweets. We also discovered that carbs in her diet essentially acted like sugar in her body (actually, this is the case in everyone but she is super in touch with her body), and so we found other choices to impart less overall carbohydrate and more protein and fat.


With each client I mentioned various sources of sugar, glycemic index, natural sugars and unnatural sugars. It was a lot of information to put into this and they gained some great benefit from it.


I made a suggestion in order to work with sugar cravings: that everytime they wanted to reach for sugar, reach for a fat instead (which also brought up more to discuss - What- FAT?!) This way, they would get a macronutrient that was nutrient-rich, relaxing to the nervous system (remember the reason we reach for sugar is stress), satiating, and blood sugar stabilizing. Did it work?  YES!

Is it ok to have some sugar in your diet? I think so, unless you have a medical condition that doesn’t allow it. Otherwise, you gotta live! It’s just when there is a pattern of reliance on it when it is problematic.

Just imagine the possibilities of changing our longstanding habits, thought patterns and ideas. It has the potential to change our overall health!








Mirror Talk

When’s the last time you looked in the mirror and told yourself you liked what you saw, or even just smiled?

It took me over three decades to stop being so mean to myself. Did I see that i was actually doing harm by always talking so negatively to myself? Not at all, in fact I didn’t think about the fact that I was putting myself down all the time. It was such an ingrained habit that I didn’t think twice about it.

One day I was looking in the mirror and in the midst of scowling and frowning at my reflection I saw my daughter watching me. It made me stop in my tracks. Mid-frown I abruptly stopped what I was doing and walked away. It occurred to me that every time I looked in the mirror, I was teaching my daughter that my reflection evoked my own disapproval. This speaks volumes, right? She was learning by watching me. Think of all the times we are encountered by our reflection or an image of ourselves and all the opportunities where we can either celebrate our image or denigrate it.

Did i want my daughter to pick up this habit of mine? She is beautiful inside and out, independent and strong-willed. The last thing I wanted was for her to struggle with her own self image and self esteem for much of her life like I did. She doesn’t deserve such negative messaging at such a young age and I certainly didn’t want to be the cause of any poor body image for her. I also don’t use words like “skinny” or “fat” which are words that hold an extreme view in our society which is completely unwarranted.

Just last year when my daughter was 12, she made an observation about the sizing at American Eagle Outfitters. She also said something about the fact that they size “cuter” clothes like jeans to be smaller while they size more comfy-er clothes like joggers to be large, implying something about how the two size extremes are supposed to dress and look. This stereotype exists and most youth can’t see it. She is smart and sharp as a whip and I’m proud of her for being wise at her age.

I say let’s change this. I challenge you to listen to any words you might be saying to yourself when looking in the mirror, trying on clothes or even just during the day. If you realize you are scowling more than you’d like, or at all, this can be changed. It’s really about forming a new habit and this can be done with practice. Just try it. When you smile you can’t help but feel good and the practice will grow on you and feel more natural. And also, if you have any children in the house, there is a good chance that someone is probably watching.




Spiced cauliflower roasted with tahini

I have a client whom I cook for who has diabetes. She requires basically a paleo type diet so I focus on protein, lots of vegetables, and lots of healthy fats. I find it easy to pair vegetables with good fats and I use a lot of fresh herbs and spices to add flavor, phytonutrients and antioxidants.

This is cauliflower tossed with coconut oil, paprika, cumin, dash of chipotle pepper, sea salt and pepper, topped with tahini dressing made with tahini, lemon and lots of garlic and roasted.

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Sautéed sugar snap peas with orange juice and zest and fresh dill

Ingredients: 

6 ounces of sugar snap peas, washed and trimmed 

1/4 tsp sea salt

1/4 tsp garlic powder 

zest of 1/2 an orange and juice of 1/4 orange 

1 T chopped fresh dill 

1 T olive oil 

dash of water 

Directions: Heat oil in a saute pan over medium heat; add snap peas, water, spices, orange zest and juice, and dill. Lower heat to medium low, stirring occasionally, for 8-10 minutes or until peas are slightly soft and some edges are slightly brown. Garnish with fresh dill and slice of orange. Serve immediately. 

 

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Roasted Portobello mushroom caps with garlic, sea salt, olive oil and fresh thyme

Ingredients: 

4 Portobello mushroom caps, washed and stems removed 

2 cloves of garlic, crushed 

olive oil for drizzling

1 T fresh thyme chopped 

Preheat oven to 375. Drizzle olive oil in a baking sheet, place caps topside down into sheet. Drizzle more olive oil onto caps lightly, add crushed garlic and thyme. Roast for 6-9 minutes or until juices are running and caps have softened. 

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Curried chicken salad with toasted almond slivers, diced apple, lime, cilantro and scallions with Boston lettuce on the side

Ingredients: 

Two chicken breasts, baked in 375 oven for 15-20 minutes sprinkled with sea salt, pepper, olive oil and garlic powder. Then cooled and diced. 

Avocado oil mayo: 3 T or more or less according to taste and consistency OR Greek yogurt, plain, full fat, organic 

1/4 cup toasted almond slivers

1/2 apple diced

1/4 onion diced 

Juice of 1/2 lime 

2 T chopped cilantro 

2 scallions chopping thin

Boston lettuce leaves washed and separated

Directions: 

In a large bowl combine diced chicken, mayo or yogurt, apple and onion. Squeeze juice of 1/2 lime onto salad and sprinkle with cilantro and scallions.  Top salad onto lettuce leaves and serve. 

 

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Spiced black beans with sautéed onions, peppers and zucchini topped with creme fraiche, lime, scallions and cilantro

Ingredients: 

Black beans (dried - soaked and boiled; or canned- drained and rinsed)

2 T cumin, divided 

2 T chili powder, divided

2 T garlic powder, divided

2 tsp sea salt, divided

2 tsp pepper, divided 

2 T olive oil, divided  

One large sweet onion

2 orange and red bell peppers, sliced 

2 zucchini, halved and sliced 

1 sweet onion, sliced thin 

2 scallions, sliced thin

1 lime sliced 

Cilantro sliced for topping 

creme fraiche for topping

optional: paprika or chipotle seasoning 

Directions: 

Heat 1 T oil in a medium pan; add black beans, 1 T each of cumin, chili powder, garlic powder, salt and pepper. Simmer on medium low, stirring occasionally until beans have softened and thickened.

Meanwhile, heat 1 T oil in a saute pan; add sliced peppers, onions and zucchini. Add 1 T each of cumin, chili powder, garlic powder, salt and pepper. Saute on medium low, stirring constantly until vegetables have softened, about 10 minutes. 

Serve beans onto a plate, then pile onion mixture on top; top with creme fraiche, squeeze a slice of lime on top for each serving, and finish with cilantro and scallions. Optional: sprinkle paprika or chipotle seasoning for added zest. 

 

 

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