Today I had a client come to see me for a reiki session- and as she was leaving mentioned that she would be calling me in the new year for a set of conscious eating coaching sessions- as she wanted to start the new year fresh- but there was no sense in getting started before then- because she sure as heck wasn't going to skip her shortbread cookies and mint chocolate ice cream this holiday!
She was in such a jubilant mood after her session I just laughed, smiled and nodded and sent her on her merry way- of course vowing to send her healthier recipe alternatives for these delectables as soon as I got home!
What I had really wanted to tell her is that it doesn't have to be one way or the other- an all or nothing attitude that makes us judge food 'good' or 'bad' is part of what has gotten us into this mess in the first place! A change of attitude is what's called for. The most important key that I recommend to all of my clients is mindful eating. Just ask yourself- what am I eating for?
Biologically we eat to nourish ourselves so that we can continue to heal and thrive as we fully experience life. Emotionally, we may have learned to eat to bury uncomfortable feelings, or soothe ourselves from a hurt that we cannot deal with or express. Sometimes we emotionally eat simply because it chemically induces 'happiness' in our bodies and it is the most simple way we understand to experience or celebrate this feeling. So, simply, every time that you reach for a morsel, ask yourself "why am I eating?" Your goal initially isn't to change your behaviour, only to recognize it.
In my opinion, it is wonderful to fully and completely enjoy your food- it is beautiful way to experience all of your senses- however, we should celebrate why it nourishes us, rather than use it as a tool to hinder or distract ourselves.
We are also trained in our society to diminish ourselves as often as possible, so it is a regular pattern to eat to distract ourselves from an uncomfortable feeling, then berate ourselves after the fact for having no control, being weak, 'bad', etc. etc.
The way I see it, my clients have 2 options:
Feel guilty and 'bad' about their food choices with a black or white attitude, thereby hindering any progress they may have made by holding out for the 'right time' to diet.
Choose to 'healthify' their lives in many moments of the day, and give themselves credit for those choices, so that when the time comes and they want to choose an indulgent food, they may do so- letting go of the judgements they place upon themselves and being fully be present in the moment to enjoy their decadence. I think that the most wonderful thing about learning to mindfully eat is that it allows you become re- aligned with your body, so that you start to pay attention to how foods make you feel physically- whether they make you feel rejuvenated or further depleted- and you begin to make healthier choices naturally, with less resistance.
For most people, it is a transitional process from option one to option two- and even when choosing the second option it takes a while to settle into this new mindset. Be kind to yourself and gently allow this shift to take place. If you try to force it you'll just end up back at square one. Mindfully, with every choice you make, try to healthify- but more importantly ENJOY your life!
BUT in the meantime- have your ice cream and eat it too! Try this:
Mint Chocolate Chip Coconut Milk Ice Cream
**Make sure to use BOTH gums. Xanthan thickens the ice-cream, and guar gum makes it creamy. So, if it’s too thin, add more xanthan, and if it’s too icy, add more guar. It may take some trial and error, but you when you get it right, the texture should resemble soft serve ice-cream.
I don't make cheesecake often, but when I do, it's raw, vegan and straight out of my food processor! In fact most of my dessert recipes these days are completely healthified and that's just the way I like 'em. I'm a sweets person, so it's important for me, especially around the holidays, to have 'treats' that I can substitute in that I know I can feel good about eating because they are low in sugar and high in fiber and nutrients. HOWEVER, these recipes are often time consuming, super expensive, or both- creating a real hinderance when it comes to converting my clients.
Well, not this one my friends! This treasure of a recipe is cheap, easy and absolutely delicious- and will completely fool any unsuspecting SAD (standard american diet) lover at your holiday parties. I buy a lot of my baking products in bulk from Speerville Flour Mill- a local source of organic grains, seeds and legumes- which even further cuts down on cost and ensures a high quality of nutrients and environmental responsibility. We bought six 4 litre jugs of local maple syrup back in the spring too- but that's fodder for a different post!
Getting back to these gourmet bars, I promise you'll swoon. The 'real deal' are chock full of dairy, sugar and gluten products- whereas this recipe only contains 2 tablespoons of maple syrup in the whole recipe, not to mention it's completely dairy and gluten free (if you use the right oatmeal!) PLUS the whole recipe only takes 20 minutes to whip together, including cleaning if you're quick!
Try them out and see for yourself, you can thank me later :)
This (nut free, raw, vegan) recipe makes 12 bars or 24 small squares
BOTTOM RICH CHOCOLATE LAYER:
FOR THE CHOCOLATE LAYER:
In health & wellness, Ariel Richards, R.H.N.
Yes, I'm sure most of us feel a pang of distain, a shot of envy or a touch of grinch-like nastiness at some point over the holidays (which can be overcome through mindfulness btw...) BUT in this post I am referring to the sharp, pungent taste that many of us westerners are missing from our every day diet- especially during this sugar ridden season!
What many people don't know is that this particular taste can be the key to avoiding sugar comas, mood swings and general lethargy during the holidays- let me explain why!
When you have a sugar craving, it can mean several things- that you're thirsty, you need to sleep or relax OR that you need certain nutrients to give your body energy. Overall, if you give your body healthy nutrients throughout the day you shouldn't be craving sweets.
It comes down to biology- taste buds are bundles of nerve endings, and our bitter taste buds connect to the vagus nerve, which stimulates the functioning of the digestive organs. So by eating bitter foods you will improve digestion, therefore providing your body with more of the nutrients it may be missing, therby cutting down on cravings! Symptoms of a digestive system crying out for bitters include bloating, burping, flatulence and constipation. These symptoms in particular indicate low stomach-acid production. As we age, stomach-acid production drops and this inhibits absorption of nutrients such as protein, iron and vitamin B12- leading us to exhibit symptoms include peeling fingernails, dry lips, general fatigue and lethargy as well as an increased susceptibility to parasitic and fungal infections. This is one of the many reasons why it is so important to be MINDFUL of the foods we are giving our bodies!
The problem with the holidays, as we health conscious folks already know, is that sweets are inevitably a part of the celebration. When we reach for sweets it starts a rollercoaster ride of quick highs and lows in our mood and energy, causing even more stress and tension in this already tightly wound season.
The solution? Make a conscious effort to eat more salad. Yes, leafy greens will provide a body satisfying bitterness that you are really craving and give you vital, powerful nutrients that your body is searching for!
Where to start? Try spinach. Kale, broccoli, arugula, beet greens, bok choy, collards, swiss chard, mustard greens and watercress are also amazing options. Try the winter greens salad recipe I've given you below as a test of this theory- the next time you're at home and have a sweet craving, have a serving of this salad instead of a cookie and probably within 15 minutes your craving will probably have subsided. Worth a shot right?
In health, Ariel Richards, R.H.N.
Winter Greens Salad (serves 4-6)
1 large head kale, stalks removed and thinly sliced
1 ⁄2 head Swiss chard, stalks removed (save for soup!) and thinly sliced
1–2 Tbsp extra virgin olive oil
1 Tbsp apple cider vinegar
juice of 1 lemon
1/2 tsp of sea salt
1 apple, cored and thinly sliced
1 cup chopped golden raisins (or pomegranate seeds)
1 ⁄2 cup walnuts, coarsely chopped
2 Tbsp fresh thyme
Freshly ground pepper, to taste
Massage kale and Swiss chard with 1 1/2 Tbsp olive oil, vinegar, lemon juice, and 1/4 tsp sea salt (to break down the fibers) for at least 2 minutes. Once the salad is wilted, toss in apple and raisins/pomegranate. In a separate bowl, toss the walnuts with thyme, 1/2 Tbsp oil, 1/4 tsp sea salt, and pepper. Toss the walnuts with the salad. Season with salt and pepper, to taste.