Week of Thanksgiving: Meal Planning Monday Week 10

There are two kinds of people in America.  Those who stay home this week and have to clean house, host guests and cook a feast…and those who have to travel, but don’t have to clean or cook!

I’m not sure which is worse. I’d say it depends on which day you travel and how far you’re going! Of course, both are good problems to have…

While my husband is deployed on a humanitarian mission this holiday season (aboard the USNS Comfort hospital ship in South America and Central America), it’s never been more evident to our family that we have too many blessings to count! However, being able to travel to my mom’s this week is definitely one of them.

Thanksgiving Abundance

We have lived overseas many years (seven) and we haven’t always been able to spend holidays with family. But for the 4th year in a row we are close enough to drive to my mom’s and that is a gift!  Mostly because she’s family and we love her. But also because she makes an awesome Thanksgiving meal! And even though my trip likely will take longer than the usual 4 1/2 hours on the Wednesday before Thanksgiving…I’m super thankful I don’t have to clean my house or cook; it’s definitely a mini vacation for me!

Our Thanksgiving Food Traditions

My mom makes the full spread:

  • a roasted turkey,
  • from-scratch gravy from the drippings,
  • traditional stuffing,
  • mashed potatoes,
  • candied sweet potato halves,
  • mashed rutabaga (but we always call it turnip for some reason),
  • steamed green beans (for something green), and
  • creamed onions.  (I remember being surprised when I learned my husband’s family also had this tradition, but I believe it is a New England thing.)
  • And then we always have the choice of whole berry OR jellied cranberry sauce (but only from the cans! Are you “team Ocean Spray” or “team homemade”? LOL)

Roasted Turkey

Since we’ve been married, my husband started a new tradition for our family making a delicious spiced pumpkin pie and a heaping apple crumb pie. (I’m not a pie person, but the apple pie is especially amazing…not that you need help finding amazing desserts!) He’s not a baker, but the nostalgia of his grandmother’s holiday pies were his inspiration. (And conveniently enough after he perfected the recipes, somehow I’m the one who makes them most years…)

But my favorite of his creations is his After-Thanksgiving Creamy Turkey and Rice Soup. He loves using up “the rest of the turkey” and creating another hearty meal so much that he doesn’t mind spending Friday afternoon cooking while my sister and I usually visit an annual holiday craft fair. Several more blessings in all of that!  (This year, I will be enlisting my girls’ help!)

Pre-Thanksgiving Meals: K.I.S.S.

Random tangent:

Did you know that the K.I.S.S. (Keep It Simple Stupid) acronym originated in the Navy in 1960?  Not sure if that explains a lot or begets more questions…but gotta love the Navy! And I am a fan of keeping things simple.

Back to my point:

For those of you cooking and even for those of us traveling, usually Monday through Wednesday before Thanksgiving needs to be E-A-S-Y! Pace yourself. Think minimal thoughts. Don’t be an overachiever on the pre-game meals!  But as always, you don’t have to cut corners with processed foods to have convenient meals either. As inspiration, I usually try to use up things I have in the fridge before a big holiday and in this case, branch out from poultry!

Happy Thanksgiving! I hope you slow down to enjoy your family, your food and your good fortune. I’m grateful for your support and honored that I’m able to encourage you in your healthy lifestyle efforts!

Meal Planning This Week

Monday (a busy night): Cauliflower Fried Rice with Chicken

Tuesday (a busy night): Shepherd’s Pie (working on a recipe with ground beef, mushrooms, beef broth, veggies and garlic mashed potatoes)

Wednesday (traveling): Dinner at Mom’s when we arrive (or I would plan on leftovers from Shepherd’s Pie)

Thursday:  MOM’S THANKSGIVING FEAST!

Friday: After-Thanksgiving Creamy Turkey and Rice Soup (no photo yet, but here’s the recipe. “What can I say, except you’re welcome?!”)

Buon Appetito!

Cooking Down: Meal Planning Monday Week 9

Are you a moody eater?  I am–and honestly it makes meal planning extra challenging sometimes!  But my freezer is full and it’s time to focus on “cooking down.”

Hoard much? I don’t know about you, but every now and then I need to reorganize the freezer and make a list of what needs to be used up.  I keep the list on a white board on the fridge, which helps hit me over the head with it.  Sometimes (most times) I need that…

If you’re not familiar with cooking down, you can read more about it in this post. Chances are you do it already, but if you don’t, check out my tips to get you started!

In a nutshell:

Cooking down is using up what you have on hand to minimize waste while still preparing easy, real food for your family.

So, this week’s meal plans are inspired by my need to:

  • prepare mostly from-scratch easy, real food for my family (as usual),
  • cook down and make room in the freezer,
  • catch my breath from the “birthday sweeps,” and
  • brace myself for Thanksgiving and the holiday season!

Meal Planning This Week

Monday (no school, M’s birthday): Out for a sushi birthday dinner (fitting for my daughter who was born in Japan!)

Tuesday (a busy night): Leftover Instant Pot Balsamic Pork Tenderloin, creamed spinach (with frozen spinach), and leftover roasted root vegetables

Wednesday: Slow Cooker Whole Chicken (from the freezer) with Seasoning Salt, caprese salad with fresh mozzarella (from my The Neighborhood Harvest delivery), and whole green beans (from the freezer)

Thursday (a busy night): Brunswick Stew (from the freezer)

Friday: Slow Cooker Chicken Fajitas (from the freezer), served over lettuce and topped with shredded cheese, chopped avocado and sour cream

Buon Appetito!

Easy, Real Comfort Foods: Meal Planning Monday Week 8

Well, in case you were worried about me…I made it through my hectic week and I can honestly say that dinner never caused me stress, because I had a realistic plan.  Well, that…and the fact that I had other people making dinner a couple of the nights. Heh. Back to reality this week.

But despite a loud sleepover birthday party with eight 7th graders Saturday night, my Sunday was relaxing enough to figure out the week’s meals. Winning! For now…but I’m definitely in the mood for some easy, real comfort food this week!

What Is “Easy, Real Comfort Food”?

The holiday season is here (as indicated by the arrival of Starbucks’ holiday drinks on Nov. 2, and no I haven’t had one yet)!  And so is some cooler weather (in Virginia anyway)–so, bring on the easy, real comfort foods!

You know “comfort foods,” but you may not know “easy, real comfort foods.” I’m talking about foods that are:

  • easy enough to make during the week,
  • made from real food, not processed foods,
  • warm and hearty for the chilly weather,
  • and particularly nourishing to your body and soul.

Maybe you’ve eaten particular comfort foods throughout your childhood. Perhaps you ate a particular comfort food only one time, yet associate it with the memory of something positively wonderful in your life. It could be that you associate particular comfort foods with a particularly challenging time in your life. Or it’s possible you associate particular comfort foods with the seasons.

Either way, I believe comfort food is an integral part of life’s ups and downs–events or temperatures! But when did “comfort food” become synonymous with “guilty pleasure”?

Here’s the thing:

You don’t have to overindulge in overly processed foods to thoroughly enjoy your food.  Easy, real comfort foods are guilt free, wholesome and real-food based, but most importantly they are easily enjoyable.

So, my meals this week include some of my favorite easy, real comfort foods that I hope you will try!

A hearty beef stew, like my mom used to make
An Italian Tuscan bean soup that reminds me of friends we met in Japan and our time in Italy
A Mediterranean frittata that reminds me of my Greek heritage

 

 

 

 

 

And my version of a chicken pot pie that my friend Kathy shared after the birth of my second daughter on Nov. 12th, 11 yrs ago

Meal Planning This Week

Monday (a busy night): Instant Pot Beef Stew (leftover from Sunday)

Tuesday (no school, but a busy night): Instant Pot Tuscan Bean, Vegetable and Bread Soup (adapting this recipe to make a bread-free version)

Wednesday:  “Brinner”–Mediterranean Caramelized Onion, Zucchini, Tomato and Feta Frittata 

Thursday (a busy night): Leftovers (Tuscan soup)

Friday: Chicken Pot Pie (with a single top crust)

Buon Appetito!

Week 2: Meal Planning Monday

Happy Meal Planning Monday!

It’s that time again–time to get easy, real-food meals planned to stay sane this week…through the rest of September.

I, for one, am taking it one week at a time. We survived our first full week of school last week (it was delayed with 4 days off school, thanks to Hurricane Flo.) Of course, this week promises to be just as busy. So, bring on the slow cooker and Instant Pot meals!

If you don’t have an Instant Pot, don’t worry. Most Instant Pot meals can be slow cooked and vice versa. If you have both, decide whether you want to be fixing the meal early in the day or later in the day.

Personally, I also don’t like to slow cook in my Instant Pot, because, for whatever reason, it is a lot slower than my slow cooker. So, since I am accustomed to my trusty slow cooker, I’m not parting with it–even though I have an Instant Pot and my slow cooker handles have fallen off and the lid has been replaced once). It has earned its keep.

Hoard kitchen appliances much? Maybe…but only the useful ones. Haha.

Meal Planning This Week:

Monday (a busy night): Fresh-caught grilled tuna (from a neighbor), Asian peanut cole slaw, and brown short-grain rice (I’ll post a recipe/photo of the cole slaw on the recipe page after tonight!)

Tuesday (a busy night): Slow Cooker (or Instant Pot) Meatballs with Spaghetti Squash (you can use zoodles or pasta, if you prefer.)

Wednesday: Dinner at church and then packing 30,000 meals for Rise Against Hunger (I would otherwise be making enough meatballs to have leftovers.)

Thursday (a busy night): Sheet Pan Italian Sausage, Pepper and Zucchini Bake

Friday: Trying out these vegan, gluten-free Spicy Chickpea Veggie Burgers (from Running on Real Food) with Roasted Vegetables (I will separately roast eggplant and tomato, so eggplant gets nice and crispy!)

Buon Appetito! As always, please leave your comments or questions. Did you try any recipes from last week? Do you have any special requests or dietary restrictions you need to work around? Let me help!

Meal Planning Mondays Start This Week!

Weekly meal planning is near and dear to my heart. You’ve heard me say I feel strongly about the meal-planning process, and you can read more about my tips for meal planning in this post.

So, meal planning for dinner is something I do pretty regularly, although never 100% of the time.

But when I don’t do it, I always regret the chaos that ensues. I’m left scrambling during the busiest time of day (3 to 7 pm for me) to make sure what I’m eating and feeding my family is as nourishing as possible. Can you relate?

You could say there are two kinds of people in the world (actually, I think this trick works for most topics, LOL):

  • those who have realistic menu plans, and
  • those who don’t (meaning, either they’re not realistic OR they didn’t bother at all!)

I care about you, so I’d really like us to be in the “realistic menu plan” camp together–which is why I’m always talking about my easy, real food recipes.

But even as an RD, it’s still hard to pull meals together every week, so I’ve decided to share my personal weeknight meal plans with you on “Meal Planning Monday.” I don’t want you to follow it exactly, but rather use it as a tool (along with my recipes) to get ideas for planning your own easy, real food weeknight meals.

Bonus: sharing here will help keep me on track for my own family!

Meal Planning This Week:

Monday (a busy night): B’s “Gonna Get Through This” Chili (from the depths of the freezer, found thanks to Hurrican Flo!)

Tuesday (a busy night): leftover Brunswick Stew from the weekend, and a simple salad

Wednesday: Simple Salmon Cakes with Tatziki, and a simple salad

Thursday (a busy night): a Tofu Stirfry (sorry no recipe yet, creating a new recipe and testing it on my family!)

Friday: Homemade pizza with Califlour Foods plain crust (sampled these crusts at the AADE Conference–yum! And no, I don’t get any financial compensation!)

Buon Appetito! And don’t forget to let me know which recipes have inspired you in the comments! Next week I’ll be sure to include an Instant Pot and/or Slow Cooker option…

How to Crush the Back to School Rush

Back to school means “back to business as usual” for many of us–whether you have school-age kids or not!  During summer, we all tend to embrace a subtle circadian shift to allow for more daylight, relaxed schedules, and well…fun! But suddenly in September, the shift back to a typical schedule seems drastic as we are swept up in the back to school rush.

In addition to our new, usually busier fall routines, we can find ourselves bombarded with messages of impending change, which circulate in advertisments, the media, and of course schools. That’s because after New Year’s, September is one of the most popular start dates for making positive changes!  But when you ride the wave of popular change, sometimes you can get carried away with goal setting and expect too much of yourself.

Simply put, don’t do that! It sets you up for failure!

If you want to really crush the back to school rush, and be able to sustain any changes without becoming overwhelmed, plan ahead and be realistic!

I’m sharing FOUR simple ways I’m planning ahead to crush it–as an often distracted, sometimes overwhelmed, work-at-home parent of school-age kids–in case it helps you.

#1: My kids are packing their own lunches in the evening. 

Back to school is synomonous with the dreaded task of packing lunches, am I right?  So, ahhh, what a relief, my kids are now doing it for themselves!  And honestly, they are really enjoying it, even my youngest, who is six.

Bento Box Lunches

We are entering “year 4” of using these bento lunch boxes from Yumbox.  Each section serves as a template for packing lunches, which makes it easy. (They are a little small for older kids, so we usually also add some popcorn, pretzels, or crackers in a small separate container.) They really hold up, which makes them more economical (and you save by not buying pre-packaged items, which is also “green”!) There are many other bento-style boxes, but these are my favorite because they are leak proof between each section, which is harder to find.  Yes, this matters!  Because if juicy fruit leaks on bread or crackers, then your well-planned healthy lunch is ruined! That’s a preventable Mom fail…

#2: I am meal planning on Sunday (or Monday) and shopping once for at least 4 dinner meals at a time.

I need to get back to well-planned, easy weeknight meals, but still keep them homemade and healthy. And I really need to waste less time shopping. Honestly, I found myself in the store EVERY DAY the last week of summer.  Each time I was annoyed at how slow the cashiers were and really it’s my own fault for not sitting down for a few minutes and planning ahead to avoid wasting a ridiculous amount of time.  I may even embrace that it’s 2018 and try grocery delivery this month!  Seriously, am I the only one who hasn’t tried it yet?

#3: I am recommitTing to bullet journaling (and renouncing the chaos).

In January, I began creating my own weekly calendar in my spiral notebook planner. I fell off the wagon in June with the distractions of summer, so I’m getting back on now. It’s NOT fancy. I DO NOT doodle or create beautiful spreads like you see on Pinterest. It is pencil and ruler-drawn columns for each day, with “to do” boxes to check, and includes my meal planning for the week.

(I also write our weekly menu plan on a white board on the fridge to keep it handy and it lets the family know what’s for dinner, but the written record has become helpful to page through for repeat ideas over time.)

I use bullet journaling in conjunction with my phone calendar for appointments and reminders. It is simple, organized and customized to me and I am less scatter-brained and better off when I do it every week. Honestly, I’m starting next week when the after-school activities ramp up…

#4: I AM SCHEDULING 30 MINUTES EVERY DAY TO WORK OUT. 

I’m usually active every day, but I tend to give up time for myself when things come up or I get busy and stressed, so I really want to work on this. I’ve definitely had more time in the morning now that I’m not making lunches! But I prefer to wait till the kids are off to school, so I’m not designating a specific time. I just want to literally schedule some type of exercise for myself each day and treat it like any other commitment I make to other people.

Have I mentioned Planning Ahead is Key?

I’ve said it before and I’ll continue to say it. Planning ahead is the best way to make positive changes to your lifestyle, such as eating more real foods and fewer processed foods. And it can and should be the simplest of plans.  To overstate the obvious, when we prioritize things that are most important to us, and have a way to stay organized, life is less overwhelming. Anything we can do to simplify things and create healthy habits helps our brains work for us, not against us, sort of on autopilot.

So, that’s what I call crushing it–planning ahead, doing the important things well, consistently. (That is, most of the time, with some grace for yourself!) I’d love to learn more about how you’re planning to crush the back to school rush, too.

Save Time With Easy Real Food

Save Time with Easy Real Food: Mission Behind this Blog

Ahhh, summer’s here. It’s Week 2 and my kids act like we have all the time in the world. During any downtime, they’re lounging on the couch, trying to put off for tomorrow (or never) what they could do today. Then September sneaks up on them. Every. Year. And they wonder where the time went and why they didn’t do more during summer break. The point? It doesn’t appear to matter how old you are; everyone wants more time–that’s why it’s my main mission to save time with easy, real food!

I actually feel I should confess. I have a nutrition and food blog, but I usually hate reading food blogs!  Although I do love searching for new recipes to try, it’s a real time suck when bloggers share blow-by-blow random thoughts speckled with as many as 10 photos of the same food taken at different angles.

Pretty food is nice to look at, but dinner doesn’t make itself, am I right?!  I just don’t have time for that and neither do you, I suspect.  (And frankly, as a blogger I prefer to firmly plant myself on the side of the proverbial fine line where I am helpful, rather than a narcissistic oversharer.)

So, I instantly scroll down recipe posts, skipping all the commentary, to do my 10-second unofficial check of the recipe to see if it meets my criteria before I consider trying it.

My Recipe Checklist

What are my criteria, you may wonder? Well if you look at my Recipe Index, you’ll get the idea pretty quickly. But here is the unofficial checklist:

  • All real-food ingredients
  • No (or very minimal) sugar
  • Grain free/gluten free (if possible, to minimize refined carbohydrates)
  • Lower in total carbohydrate
  • No highly refined oils (such as seed and vegetable oils, including corn and canola)
  • Easy instructions
  • Minimal time commitment (bonus points for under 45 min)
  • Will My Family Eat It???

Perfection Is Impossible

Not too surprisingly, few recipes meet these criteria!  I realize my checklist is discriminating, but you should know I don’t follow these criteria for everything I eat. Technically, I do not have food rules; I eat everything.  And I don’t feel guilty when I choose to eat something that is outside of this list!  You shouldn’t either.

However, I don’t eat everything every day.  Most people’s idea of moderation is likely not cutting it for health.  I choose to eat lower carbohydrate, real (from nature) foods, 9 times out of 10, because I feel better eating this way—and believe it is the most evidenced-based way to eat for optimal health (more on that very soon, a blog post series is in the works!)

Plus eating easy, real food creates a path to simplicity in this overabundant, distracting life.  Literally–I don’t walk up and down the majority of grocery store aisles.  Figuratively–I try to concern myself with what’s important and disregard the rest because it’s how I keep my head above water!  I am known for saying, “I’m on a need-to-know basis and I just don’t need to know!”

So, when I am creating and sharing recipes to help you live a healthier lifestyle, these are my strict criteria to help you focus on what to eat more often than not.  Because anyone can easily use meal plans, order meal delivery kits or look up convenient, sugar-laden, highly processed recipes online.  But it is so much harder to find homemade, easy, real-food recipes that you can rely on for your day-to-day, non-diet meal planning for a healthy lifestyle.

Mission To Save Time

Because it is my number one mission to save time, I designed my site (which affects how you choose to get connected, see below) mainly to avoid wasting your time (and mine).  After all, if you don’t feel you have enough time, you won’t prioritize your family’s meals.  It is hard enough trying to cut through scientific jargon, mainstream media and popular culture to figure out what’s legit. So, when you take the time to pull up a chair to my table, I promise to always serve you the following:

  • Easy, real food recipes that are as brief as possible.
  • Recipes that are continually added to the Recipe Index, but are not posted—mainly so you are not emailed (read: bothered) every time one is added!
  • One photo per recipe, just enough to whet your appetite (but not within the printable recipe; I’m saving your printer ink!)
  • Evidence-based blog posts on a variety of nutrition topics relating to a lower carb real-food lifestyle—always summarized with a meaningful, practical “bottom line” and/or tips for moving forward.

Choose How to Get Connected

If you’re ready and willing to learn more, there are several ways to get connected with www.thewanderingrd.com, depending on which question(s) you want answered!

“What to Eat?”

If you want to cut to the chase and figure out what to eat (that is, what’s for dinner tonight?) here are some ways to get connected with www.thewanderingrd.com so you don’t miss when there are new recipes to try.

“Why Eat Real Food?”

If you are looking for the “why” behind a lower carb, real food lifestyle (for people with type 2 diabetes, prediabetes or anyone else) of course you’ll also find that at www.thewanderingrd.com! The best way to stay connected for this type of information is to subscribe to the blog via email, if you haven’t already, so you don’t miss a post.

(On a computer, from the homepage, look just under my photo to subscribe to the blog via email. Or on a mobile device, click on the faint square with 3 bars at top left, click “Contact Me” and scroll down to subscribe to the blog via email.)

What’s Next?

A new blog post series is in the works starting in July to cover some big topics and make them easier to digest. Don’t wait–get connected so you don’t miss a thing!

Real Food Picnicking

Today is National Picnic Day! It’s probably no coincidence that National Picnic Day is in April. Spring picnics timed right practically guarantee the warmth of the sun on your face, a soft breeze stirring your hair, the rustling of leaves in the trees, and the fresh smell of new blossoms and cut grass. Mother Nature is rejuvenating herself and it’s hard not to notice and feel inspired!

There is nothing like eating natural (real) food in nature–that’s al fresco dining at its best! My family loved the cultural norms of eating fresh foods “in the fresh (air)” while we lived in Italy, but this time of year always takes me back to Japan. Cherry blossom season in Japan elevated picnicking to an artform–the sake is freeflowing, the delicacies are intricate, and both are to be enjoyed with friends under a canopy of beautiful sakura blooms celebrating the start of spring.

But you don’t have to leave the country to enjoy a spring picnic. Even in your own backyard, your real food picnic can be relaxing and provide nourishment well beyond the food. Because being outside just makes you feel better, doesn’t it? Why is that?! I think it’s partly because being outside makes you feel small in a big world; seasons come and go and weather changes daily and we are not in control. Yet, the fact that many aspects of nature function in an orderly way, without our input, is predictable, and therefore, comforting! Plus there are all those pretty views.

So, a picnic is the marriage of two of my favorite things: being outside and eating real food! But it can be stressful to feel pressured to make fancy foods and to literally haul a bunch of stuff outside to enjoy the meal. It doesn’t have to be stressful, if you keep things simple.

Three Tricks to A Stress-free Picnic

  1. Use real foods you have on hand or items you usually make.
  2. Finger foods are easiest for everyone (and may even eliminate the need for plates and utensils–hey, every day is Earth Day)!
  3. Sometimes you just need to find a different way to transport (i.e., mason jars or skewers) the same easy, real foods you usually enjoy!

Here are some of my favorites:

Real Food Picnic Ideas

Happy picnicking! Grab a blanket and get ready to embrace some serenity today, even if it’s in your backyard or on the floor of your living room (kids love that!)

It’s National Registered Dietitian Nutritionist Day–Yet It’s Really All About You!

Did you know dietitians have their own day? Yes, I know, everyone has their own day these days. But truth be told, I don’t really want my own day! In fact, sometimes when I’m meeting a new person for the first time, I hesitate to even disclose that I’m a dietitian–I hate that I’m known as the food police!

Do you work in a profession that slaps a pre-conceived, metaphorical “label” on you the minute someone hears what it is? (Share it in the comments!) But seriously, which other profession does this as much as one that involves food??? I think it’s because everybody eats, am I right?

Don’t get me wrong…I’m not at all embarrassed to be a dietitian.  I worked very hard to become an RD. An RD (or RDN which is the same thing) is more qualified than a “nutritionist”. Here’s what I did to become an RD, if you’re interested:

  • First, you get a 4-year college degree at an accredited university.
  • Then you apply and get accepted and matched to a year-long, unpaid internship program.  (Thanks mom and dad for the support!)
  • Then you study like crazy and pass a national exam on all areas of dietetics, even if you’ll just be specializing in one. (No, I don’t wear a hairnet and don’t ask me about cooking meals in a hospital!)
  • In my case, I chose to also complete a Master’s in Nutrition Communication, to specialize in evidenced-based writing, and food and nutrition marketing.
  • And finally, I also chose to specialize in diabetes by training with patients for 1,000 hours, and then taking a difficult certification exam to be a Certified Diabetes Educator (which I maintain every 5 years by retaking the exam AND completing 75 hours of continuing education credits in the field of diabetes).

No wonder I feel old sometimes! But I love the wandering path my career has taken! I just don’t like to disclose that I’m an RD first thing because it opens up a can of worms when I bring it up in a casual, cursory conversation.

For example, during summer camp drop-off, I felt I had to share with my kids’ camp director that I am a dietitian. In the two minutes it takes to drop off your child in the morning, you may be wondering how it could possibly have come up.

Well, I sent my two kids to camp with one small cooler half-filled with cold packs so that their healthy foods could stay cold. He teased them about their 10-pound lunch and said he was sitting next to them. So, in defense of my kids, I felt the need to explain with a laugh, that I am a dietitian as I started to walk away…

But do you think I could just walk away? I should’ve known I couldn’t just walk away…

He stepped towards me and fired a few loaded nutrition questions one after the other, expecting a short answer to each. “What’s the deal with gluten? What about those flat pretzels? My wife and I really feel better eating those…”

My first thought escaped as a stammer: “Uhhhhh….”

Where to begin!? Do I even want to begin right now??

What I Mean By “Uhhhh…”

  • I hesitate because nutrition science is so complicated.
  • I hesitate because I don’t have time right now, in the spur of the moment…and frankly, I figure you probably don’t either.
  • I hesitate because I need more information from you.
  • I hesitate because I wonder how much you know about the topic already, especially if you think I can answer your complicated questions in passing.
  • I hesitate because I wonder if you are really ready to know the long answer to your question. 
  • I hesitate because I don’t want to burst your bubble or bruise your ego.
  • I hesitate to squash myths with evidence before we have a rapport because you don’t yet know you can trust me as a reliable source of information.
  • The fact is, I hesitate mostly because I’m thinking about you –it’s really all about you, and I mean that in the best possible way!

Don’t Worry, I am NOT the Food Police

My focus really has to be all about you because my experience with food is irrelevant to your journey. I can relate to you without sharing the exact same food struggles, because we are human and we all eat! We are all different and working on different things in our lives, and that’s okay! I don’t think I need to tell you I’m not perfect. It can be assumed–and it might be the only correct assumption you can ever safely make about a person.

Therefore, please do not feel like I’m judging you. I really do not care what you are eating, especially if you don’t ask me for help. Even if you ask me for help and share what you are eating, I’m still not judging you. Sometimes I make choices that are less than ideal and not the healthiest. Everyone does it. It’s called living. And it’s why dieting doesn’t work. There’s no place for guilt or shame in building healthy eating habits. And there’s no place for judgment either.

Sometimes it’s frustrating, but what works for one person may not work for another. I prefer to think that’s positive and even liberating–we don’t have to conform to one way of eating! So, as always, please share your comments and ask your questions here! I’m passionate about helping people know what and how to eat for better health and I’m always happy to respond when I can focus 100% on YOU!

Finding Motivation to Give It More

You know when you listen to a song and there’s a line of lyrics you can’t exactly figure out? You listen to it over and over and still can’t make out what they are saying!

I know it’s not just me–a classic example is Bruce Springstein’s “Blinded by the Light” where for years (yes, before the Internet was invented) I thought he was singing “wrapped up like a douche” (it’s supposed to be “deuce”)!

But even in the age of Google or Apple radio lyrics, I sometimes find myself wondering what the heck I’m hearing when a new song plays on the radio as I’m driving! Adele’s “When We Were Young” has a part where she repeats over and over “when we were young”. I was 99% certain she’d coined a new term “in-EE-bree-uh”! Inebria, like inebriate…okay, maybe now it’s just me! But once that was in my head, I couldn’t hear anything else…I finally remembered to look it up when I wasn’t driving!

Well, all this to say, sometimes (not often) I invent my own song lyrics–and end up liking my version better! Shakira’s “Try Everything” from Zootopia is a song I may not have heard if I didn’t have kids, but it’s one of my favorites! (If you don’t watch kid movies, you’re probably missing out on a ton of good, motivational messaging in catchy, upbeat songs…I love listening to these positive songs with or without my kids.)

Here are my Top 5 Favorite Inspiring Songs from Animated Movies:

So, my favorite line of Try Everything is this: “Nobody learns without getting it wrong.” Love this “growth mindset” message that failing is an integral part of learning. It certainly doesn’t feel good to fail, but when we know it’s just something 1) everyone does sometimes and 2) it’s how we learn best, it takes the sting out! Especially when we’re afraid to even try something for fear of failing (true story).

But when I first heard the song, I thought these were the lyrics: “Nobody learns without giving it more.” I have to admit…I love my version even better! And no, not because I came up with it! Because it answers the question “what happens after you fail?”

You give it MORE!

YEAH you do!

So, what will you do next time you fail at something? Have you failed at changing your eating habits for the better? Have you failed at making exercise a regular part of your routine? Have you failed to follow up with your doctor about your health? Have you failed to even think about your health at all?

Do you want to just get it wrong and stop or GIVE IT MORE?

“Give it more” means you don’t give up on yourself or your health. And it means, you do NOT beat yourself up about past failures. “Give it more” does NOT mean try a different diet. Diets are temporary and meant to end–you didn’t fail.

Instead, give it more by figuring out one small meaningful thing you can do for yourself today. Make it asking for help if you don’t know where to start. Or check out this Calendar of 30 Eating Habits of Healthy and Happy Families and pick one. Make it something you’ll be able to do tomorrow, too. And the day after that. Give yourself MORE because you deserve it.

Tell your goal to everyone around you.

Better yet, find someone who will help you with your goal.

Make yourself a list and check it off every day for a month.

Listen to one of these songs or any others daily for inspiration.

Pray or meditate about your goals.

And rest assured that giving it more will get easier with time…when it becomes a healthy habit!